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Analysis: behind the scenes of Erin O’Toole’s victory

FRANCOPRESSE – Early Monday morning, Erin O’Toole became the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. He won in the third ballot, obtaining 57% of the votes, or 19271 points. Peter MacKay was second, while Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan were third and fourth, respectively.

Bruno Cournoyer Paquin – Francopresse

Before the leadership campaign, explains Stéphanie Chouinard, professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Erin O’Toole was considered a “red tory”, Or a moderate conservative. During the campaign, however, he positioned himself to the right of Peter MacKay, attempting to woo an electorate closer to the mainstream of social conservatism.

This positioning as “a true blue”, as its slogan indicates, had a greater resonance with the members of the Party, particularly the social conservatives, who selected it as second or third choice, notes the political scientist Frédéric Boily of Campus Saint-Jean of the University of Alberta.

“Erin O’Toole is not a social conservative, he was taking moderate positions, he was for freedom of choice… but he winked at social conservatives by saying ‘look, the party is open to all factions ”.”

And that, he adds, quite the contrary of Peter McKay, who relied on a centrist speech: “And if ever the social conservatives did not agree with that, well, they had only not to vote for him. This is exactly what they did! ”

For Jim Farney, director of the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Regina, Peter MacKay, as the former leader of the Progressive Conservatives, was also seen as a “man of yesterday” and associate. to the left flank of the party.


Serious platforms guaranteeing votes

For Stéphanie Chouinard, if some party leadership races have looked like popularity contests in the past, here, “it is the candidates with the most serious platforms who were able to win over the membership, in this case Erin O’Toole and Leslyn Lewis, who performed in a truly remarkable way for someone who was so little known before the race. “

For Professor Jim Farney, director of the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Regina, the regional coalition that led Erin O’Toole to leadership will be difficult to accommodate. Credit: Courtesy

Leslyn Lewis’s performance, adds Frédéric Boily, “shows that the networks of moral, social and religious conservatism are still present within the party. They are not in the majority, but it is a very strong active minority which allows candidates, like Leslyn Lewis, like Derek Sloan, to seek supporters ”.

However, for Professor Jim Farney, Leslyn Lewis’s success cannot be explained solely by the vote of social conservatives: “She campaigned vigorously, and a lot of people liked to see a black woman, with an immigrant background, do well in the party. She was also leading in Saskatchewan in the first round and in the second round she was leading all the western provinces. It was probably the social conservatives who voted overwhelmingly for her, but there is something else behind it. ”

Finally, if Erin O’Toole’s electoral platform was more to the right than that of Peter MacKay, it also included more specific commitments for different regions. Among other things, Erin O’Toole held “a speech for Western Canada, for Alberta in particular, where he talks about equalization, where he talks about pipelines; and a speech for Quebec, where he talks about autonomy for Quebec, where he talks about the weight of Quebec’s representation in the House of Commons, ”adds Frédéric Boily.

Sources of Erin O’Toole’s victory emerge his future challenges

0825 Francopresse Coulisses chefferie PCC Frédéric Boily Cr. Courtoisie
Frédéric Boily, full professor of political science at Campus Saint-Jean at the University of Alberta, Erin O’Toole won the leadership of the Conservative Party by establishing himself as the second or third choice of social or religious conservatives Credit: Courtesy )

According to Professor Boily, O’Toole will now have to demonstrate that he can stand up to the social conservatives in his caucus: “At some point, he will have to put his foot down to say that he is not the hostage. of that movement. ” What his predecessor, Andrew Scheer, never really managed to accomplish, he adds.

Moreover, for Jim Farney, the coalition of regions that propelled the new leader to the head of the party could prove problematic. “He got a lot of support from powerful Conservatives in the West: Jason Kenney, Scott Moe, lots of MPs. And he got the support of Quebec, but he is a member of Parliament from Ontario, from the Toronto area. The question will therefore be: how will he manage all these regional tensions? ”

Professor Farney specifies: “When you look at the history of the Conservatives in Canada, they may have the West and Quebec, or Ontario and the West, or Ontario and Quebec, but they cannot hold out. the three regions together for a very long time. This is what killed the torys from Mulroney. ”

Erin O’Toole’s political positions

It is too early to determine what will be the priorities of a government led by Erin O’Toole, according to Stéphanie Chouinard, in part because there is a difference between the electoral platform put forward in a race for leadership and the general election platform.

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These are the candidates who came up with the most serious platforms who performed best in this leadership race, according to Stéphanie Chouinard, professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada. Credit: Courtesy

Frédéric Boily notes that the outlines of the policies of a possible O’Toole government remain vague. We could expect, he believes, an open federalism à la Stephen Harper, where we leave a little more latitude to the provinces, while supporting the oil industry.

As for environmental policies, “it seems to be a continuation of what was done before, adds Frédéric Boily; that is to say, a program that seems to rely mainly on technological gains to fight against climate change. Or a certain form of taxation, but above all not a carbon tax. Let’s say a taxation of large emitters. ”

Jim Farney remarks that Erin O’Toole “makes a great deal of his military career, and that he talks a lot more about foreign policy in his platform than what we usually see”. We can see that he wants to reorient Canada’s foreign policy towards NATO allies and the Anglo-Saxon countries.

He also favors a “law and order” approach, going so far as to suggest evoking the derogation clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to establish minimum criminal sentences.

Who is Erin O’Toole? Erin O’Toole has been a lawyer by training and Member of Parliament for Durham, Ont., since 2012. He is a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and served as Minister of Veterans Affairs under the Harper government.

The Conservative Party’s voting system

The ballot, driven entirely by mail, was preferential and weighted by constituency. Each constituency was worth 100 points, distributed proportionally according to the share of the vote obtained by the candidates.

In addition, Conservative members had to list the candidates in order of preference. The candidate with the fewest votes in the first round was eliminated, and the second and third choices were redistributed to the remaining candidates. The victory went to the candidate who would obtain more than 50% of the points, or 16,901.

Jim Farney explains that this system arose from the merger between the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance almost 20 years ago. This means that to become leader of the Conservative Party, you have to be competitive across the country.

Stéphanie Chouinard points out that this gives significant weight to ridings that have fewer Conservative Party members. According to her, “it favors the eastern provinces, in the sense that there are fewer registered members in Quebec and the Atlantic than there are in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Quebec, in particular, which has 78 seats in the House of Commons, will become almost like a prize to be won for the candidates ”because if the province has few Conservative members, it nevertheless constitutes a good pool of points.