By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
After months of seeking the leadership of his party, Durham MP Erin O’Toole says he’s looking forward to going home.
Coming in third in the packed 13-candidate race, O’Toole says that despite losing the bid, he is proud of how he did.
“I would’ve liked to have won, obviously, but a strong third and the top result in Ontario for somebody that’s been in politics the least amount of time – I wasn’t well known at the beginning – we were coming on strong, but we just ran out of runway. And our party is strong, and I’m just proud to be a part of it,” he tells The Oshawa Express.
“I’ll be able to be in the riding a little more which is great, because I’ve missed some things with my travels. But gosh, I’ve been able to see every corner of this country and it was a special experience.”
The race to be leader of the Conservative Party of Canada was eventually won by Andrew Scheer, the MP for Regina-Qu’Appelle and former speaker of the house. Scheer, who polled second in the race prior to the vote, beat out front-runner Maxime Bernier, MP for Beauce and former cabinet minister under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Taking to the stage at the Toronto Congress Centre for his victory speech, Scheer said now that the race for the leadership is over, the party will turn its views outwards and go after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party ahead of the next federal election in 2019.
“Trudeau’s Liberals are so focused on photo-ops and selfies that they don’t care if their policies hurt and not help the middle class. Sunny ways don’t pay the bills. Given what’s going on in Ottawa, I think that forecast for sunny ways was like so many other weather forecasts that we’ve seen, but I guess it’s always sunny in the Caribbean,” he said, referring to Trudeau’s maligned trip to a private island owned by the Aga Khan earlier this year.
O’Toole agreed with Scheer, saying that the Conservative Party needs to come together for the 2019 election.
“We have to make sure that we stay united out of this and turn the focus on Trudeau,” he says.
“I think Andrew Scheer will do that as leader and (the Liberals) have got a terrible record on the economy, public safety and security, support for the military, Canada’s role in the world – there’s a whole litany of issues of where I think Liberals are weak. We’ve got to show Canadians why we deserve their trust again.”