By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter
Durham MP Erin O’Toole vowed to fight for Canadians in his first official address as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada Tuesday morning.
“Here’s all you need to know. I’m here to fight for you and your family. And Canada needs a fighter, because everything is not okay from coast to coast to coast,” he says, noting Canadians across the country are losing their jobs, their homes and their hope.
“Many of you are more concerned about the future than ever before,” he says, adding he understands the challenges, fears and hopes of the middle class because he has lived it his entire life.
O’Toole says he is ready to put forward a team for office of the leader of the opposition party and national campaign and will soon be announcing a shadow cabinet.
“Our Conservative team is a strong, smart, diverse group that reflects Canada, but Canadians haven’t always seen themselves in our party, and I’m going to change that,” he says.
“Whether you’re black, white, brown or from any race or creed; whether you are LGBT or straight; whether you are an Indigenous Canadian or have joined the Canadian family five weeks ago or five generations ago; whether you are doing well or barely getting by; whether you worship on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, or not at all; you are an important part of Canada and you have a home in the Conservative Party of Canada.”
The Durham MP took the win Sunday night with 19,271.74 of the votes (57 per cent) to succeed Andrew Scheer as the Conservative party leader. Peter MacKay followed with 14,528.26 votes.
O’Toole took time to thank Canadians from across the country in his acceptance speech.
“Thank you to the tens of thousands of Canadians from coast to coast who voted for me,” he says. “You put your faith in me to lead this historic party and I am honoured and humbled. I promise you, I will not let you down.”
O’Toole says Canadians have given him a clear mission: “To unite our party, to champion our conservative principles, to show Canadians what we know so well – that Justin Trudeau and his team are failing our great country,” he says.
“We must continue to point out Liberal failings and corruption but we also must show Canadians our vision for a stronger, prosperous and more united Canada.”
He says Canada can do better and noted Conservatives will work hard to earn the trust and confidence of Canadians in the next election.
In his speech, O’Toole introduced himself to the thousands of Canadians that he said he’s meeting for the first time.
“I want you to know that I am here to fight for you and your families,” he says, eluding to the fact an election may be called as early as this fall.
O’Toole says Canada is facing its most serious economic challenges since the Great Depression and the country is more divided than ever.
He notes while people are losing faith across the country because of the “out-of-touch policies from the Liberal party,” and having just emerged from the largest health crisis in the country, premiers across the country have shown “real leadership amid the COVID-19 crisis” while “Justin Trudeau, Bill Morneau and the Liberals showed – once again – that even amid a national crisis, they were more interested in looking after their friends.”
“We need a leader who puts Canadians first and will stand up for Canada and our interests in a challenging world where we have lost the respect of our friends and allies.”
O’Toole entered the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament in a byelection in November 2012, and briefly served as minister of veterans affairs in 2015.
In 2017, O’Toole ran in the Conservative leadership race to replace Stephen Harper, in which he finished third. He has been serving as the Official Opposition critic for foreign affairs since August 2017.
“Now the real work begins,” he says. “Canada needs serious leadership for these challenging times to keep Canadians safe and prepared for the future, to rebuild the economy, to navigate out of deficits, to ensure Canada builds stronger and more self-reliant, and to restore the country’s place in a tough world.
I believe in this country and I am running to serve you as Prime Minister.”