Four days before the Canadian election, Steven Loughnan drove 90 minutes from his home in Prospect Village, NS, to listen to Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole.
After the rally at the local farmers market, self-identified red Tori Loughnan said it was worth the visit because O’Toole is taking the party.
“It’s a different party from when Stephen Harper was prime minister, and I think Mr O’Toole is a realist,” Loughnan told Granthshala News.
Loughnan says he considered leaving the party last March when delegates at the party’s convention rejected climate change as the official Conservative Party policy.
“You know, you don’t have to think too hard to realize that climate change is real, and you’ll hear that from Mr. O’Toole,” Loughan said.
In her nearly 13 months as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Erin O’Toole has steered the Tories more towards the center of the political spectrum, which many see as having more progressive policies than her predecessors.
“The center is where the path to power is. In my opinion, who can have the center, and the liberals are gone, try to survive more than the NDP. And the Conservatives are at the center right now,” said Tony Liprick in St. Catharines Said after a rally, Friday evening.
The clerk is influenced not only by O’Toole as a person but also by his policies.
“(O’Toole) came up with a plan and it’s not just throwing money away and that’s the main thing. It’s really, you have a plan, a logical plan,” said the clerk.
O’Toole calls himself a “true blue” conservative, but in his leadership victory speech, he made a direct appeal to Indigenous, LGBTQ2 and racial Canadians to see themselves reflected in his party.
“I know some of you may be hesitant because of things you may have heard or impressions that are a little out of date,” O’Toole said in a speech in Saguenay Quebec five days before the election.
O’Toole is even saying that this isn’t your grandfather’s Conservative Party—the grandfather of Canadian conservatism, drawing support from former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney.
“The fact that Brian Mulroney first campaigned on the campaign trail to become prime minister adds something to the appeal that O’Toole has not only the Conservative Party, but other Canadians as well. Tim Powers, chairman of Summa Strategies, said.
Powers believes that the government that wins the Conservative parties are the parties that change in form and sometimes structure from previous iterations.
“I think if Mr. O’Toole had more time before this election, he would have pushed the Conservative Party into the centre-right position more aggressively,” Powers told Granthshala News in an interview.
Now the question is, if the Conservatives don’t form the government, how much time will they have after the election. Andrew Scheer was quickly removed as leader in 2019 after helping convert the Liberals into a minority government.
On the eve of the election, O’Toole has no qualms about suffering the same fate, but worries that if he loses, progress will be lost as well.
“If he doesn’t win on Monday, I’d hate to see the Conservative Party step back and attribute any damage to the positions he took,” Powers said.