“Good morning, I’m Erin O’Toole”

Quote from Erin O’Toole as he greeted Canadians in the wee hours, moments after becoming Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

In summer 2020, the Conservatives held a leadership convention to replace Andrew Scheer who had stepped down in late 2019 amid allegations that party funds were used to pay for his children’s private school tuition without the knowledge of party members.

Voting was online due to the pandemic and technical glitches plagued the process. After hours of delay, O’Toole was crowned leader of the Party and finally introduced himself to Canadians in the early hours of morning on August 24, 2020. Making light of his status as being relatively unknown outside the party, O’Toole quipped, “To the millions of Canadians that are still up, that I’m meeting tonight for the first time: Good morning, I’m Erin O’Toole.” (Editorial note: We are not sure how many Canadians were still awake at 1:30 a.m. and but for those who were, what were they watching?)

During the leadership campaign, the Montreal-born, Ontario-raised O’Toole courted the party’s western base and charmed (some of) the grassroots with his pledges to fight the elusive “radical left”. He walked a careful line of appealing to both social conservatives and progressive conservatives to earn the nomination.

Clearly, it worked. Yet, in becoming Leader of the Official Opposition, O’Toole evoked the history of come-from-behind party leaders such as like Joe Clark and his dogged nickname, “Joe Who?”.

Facing not only Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next election, but also a surging Jagmeet Singh eager to repeat t

In the snap election of 2021, the Conservatives had a strong start in the 36-day campaign but lost two seats compared to their 2019 result. Despite winning the popular vote, O’Toole faced significant criticism for his “Red Tory” campaign, which many felt had bolstered support for the People’s Party.

For now, Erin O’Toole is still waiting for his good morning.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, Erin O’Toole

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