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Erin O'Toole chosen as leader of Conservative Party of Canada

Last Updated Aug 24, 2020 at 7:02 am MDT


Erin O'Toole is the new leader of the federal Conservative Party

O'Toole defeated Peter MacKay after the third round of counting which was delayed by almost seven hours

O'Toole's first major task will be to guide the party through a confidence vote next month in the House of Commons

OTTAWA — After an almost seven-hour delay to tally mail-in votes, Erin O’Toole was chosen to lead the federal Conservative Party Monday morning.

O’Toole won the race after a third round of counting with 57 per cent of the vote, beating perceived frontrunner Peter MacKay, who had come out on top in the first round of what was a combative race.

Elected in 2012, O’Toole, the Durham MP, served as Minister of Veterans Affairs under Stephen Harper.

“Good morning. I’m Erin O’Toole. I want you to know from the start that I am here to fight for you and your family,” the lawyer and former member of the Air Force said on Monday, introducing himself to the country after officially taking the win.

While O’Toole spent much of his campaign framing himself as a true blue Conservative and using combative language against the media and his main rival, he used his first speech as Tory leader to appeal to a wider audience.

He called on his party to unify, be more inclusive, and to hold the Trudeau government to account.

“Canada can and must do better, and Conservatives will work hard to earn the trust and confidence of Canadians in the next election,” O’Toole said.

“The world still needs more Canada, it just needs less Justin Trudeau,” he added.

Nearly 270,000 party members were eligible to vote in the Conservative leadership race, and upwards of 175,000 ultimately cast a ballot.

The result came in the wee hours of Monday, as machines tasked with slicing envelopes malfunctioned and several thousand ballots had to be replicated by hand under the close eye of scrutineers throughout Sunday evening.

Among O’Toole’s first major tasks: guiding the Conservatives as the Liberals face a Throne Speech confidence test in September.

At the same time, he will have to focus on bringing together the various factions that developed over the course of the sometimes fractious campaign.

The race to replace Andrew Scheer began in January but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.