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O’Toole not running for party leadership

Erin O'Toole

Former Conservative interim leader candidate and Durham MP Erin O’Toole has said he will not run for the permanent leader’s position.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Durham’s MP may have put his name forward to be the interim leader of the Conservative Party, but he says he will not be running for the full-time position.

Speaking with The Oshawa Express shortly after the party released the rules surrounding the leadership runoff, Erin O’Toole says he will not be putting his name on the ballot.

“I wouldn’t expect to see my name on the ballot,” O’Toole says.

“I’ve said no a few times publicly to a run for the permanent leader. I ran for the interim leader at the urging of a number of colleagues, and I did quite well, but one thing I said is that I’m going to be involved one way or another in rebuilding the party and making sure that we’re really competitive in the next election. And I think that can be done with someone else at the helm.”

In November, three weeks after the Conservatives lost in the federal election to the Liberals under Justin Trudeau, O’Toole put his name forward to be interim leader of the party. The former veterans affairs minister was unsuccessful in his bid, losing to former health minister Rona Ambrose.

While he has immersed himself in the internal rebuilding of the party since then, O’Toole says he has been no stranger to people attempting to persuade him to change his mind.

“There’s a number of people that have been urging me to reconsider it. They suggest the style and approach I brought to Veterans Affairs amidst some of the challenges with that department – people like that,” O’Toole says.

“That’s flattering, obviously, when even people I’ve never met and business leaders…urging me to do it. I just tell them I’ll be involved one way or another. Right now, I don’t see it as a candidate in the leadership race, but as a voice of the party, as a voice in the media, taking part in debates.”

However, O’Toole says that there is always the chance that he’ll change his mind.

“If circumstances and I don’t see us being as competitive as we can be and need to be, who knows, the answer may change.”

According to rules posted by the Conservative Party, potential candidates must be standing members of the party for at least six months prior to registering their nomination. Candidates must also pay $100,000 for registration fees and compliance deposits.

Candidates will also be able to spend as much as $5 million during the election process.

The deadline to enter the race is Feb. 24, 2017, with the leader picked three months later on May 27.