Niagara’s Conservative MPs weigh-in on O’Toole ousting

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Allison MP and Baldinelli MP

MP for Niagara West Dean Allison (left) voted to remove O’Toole. MP for Niagara Falls Tony Baldinelli (right) declined to comment on specifics regarding internal caucus matters, but said the party moves forward “united”. 

 

In a closed-door virtual caucus meeting Wednesday morning, federal Conservative MPs voted 73-45 to remove Erin O’Toole as leader of the party. 

Leading up to the removal, several MPs were dissatisfied with how the member from Durham had tried to bring the party closer to the political centre and failed to make any gains in the previous election. 

One of the 73 members who voted to oust O’Toole was Conservative MP for Niagara West Dean Allison.

“I voted to have him removed, yes.” 

According to Allison, many of his Niagara West constituents had reached out in recent weeks to express concern with O’Toole’s leadership. 

“He [O’Toole] ran on being this ‘true blue’ conservative – but, for many of my constituents, that’s not exactly what they saw in some of his decisions, in some of his flip-flops.” 

In the 2020 Conservative leadership race, O’Toole touted himself to party members as a “true blue” alternative to frontrunner Peter MacKay, who was perceived to be more moderate than any other candidate. 

When it came time to count the votes, O’Toole successfully siphoned enough second-place choices from social conservatives Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis to win in the final round of the ranked ballot.  

Both Allison and his Conservative caucus colleague from Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli supported Peter MacKay over O’Toole in the 2020 leadership contest. 

Baldinelli, who was named O’Toole’s Shadow Minister for Manufacturing and Export Promotion last November, thanked the former leader for both his trust and service. 

“Being the leader of any political party is an extremely challenging job, which takes full attention and tremendous sacrifice. I want to thank Erin O’Toole and his family for their efforts and sacrifices leading our party over the past 18 months,” said Baldinelli in a statement. 

“I am personally grateful for the opportunities Erin provided me to serve in the Conservative Shadow Cabinet. I look forward to continuing to meet with stakeholders in the areas of tourism recovery, manufacturing, export promotion, and more.”

When asked whether he voted for or against the removal of O’Toole, the Niagara Falls MP’s office said that “MP Baldinelli does not comment on internal caucus matters,” but that he is confident the party will remain “united” moving forward. 

With the departure of O’Toole, the Conservatives will have to conduct their third leadership contest since Stephen Harper stepped down in 2015. 

Some early frontrunners to replace O’Toole include finance critic Pierre Poilievre, former leadership candidates Peter MacKay and Leslyn Lewis, popular MP from out west Michelle Rempel, and former leader of the Ontario PC Party and current Mayor of Brampton Patrick Brown. 

While Allison said he doesn’t think his former endorsement in MacKay will return for another kick at the can, the Niagara West MP said many appear enthusiastic about the prospect of Poilievre running. 

“I think he’s the best communicator we have,” said Allison. “I definitely hear his name come up a lot when people call my office.”

Given the uncertainty of a minority government, the Conservatives are eager to fill the void at the top as soon as possible, with a leadership race likely to take place before the fall. 

Manitoba MP Candice Bergen will head-up the party as interim leader until a permanent replacement for O’Toole is selected.

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