A caucus revolt is happening and there is a very high probability that O’Toole is gone as Conservative leader by week’s end and party is back in a leadership race. Initially I was in favour of him staying on, but now I am truly torn and honestly I don’t know how I would vote if I were an MP. I see both reasons to keep him and reasons not to.
Main reason I see for keeping him is O’Toole at least understands party needs to modernize and broaden its appeal. As per his tweet last night, he knows being NDP of the right and appealing to angry minority is a sure fire way to remain in opposition for years to come. As much as some in base may wish it were, Canada is not a right wing country. We are most educated country on earth, one of the most urbanized, and one of the most diverse. That means in order to win, a party must reflect this and not go on idea ideas popular in rural Prairies will bring you victory. I fear if dumped, next leader would be a lot more right wing which would not only ensure another loss, but also be bad for our country. Reality is when Liberals fear losing, they will be more cautious whereas if they feel they are invincible, they are more likely to be careless and make reckless decisions. Going further right will just further polarize country and encourage Liberals to go further left and be more reckless. And even if a further right wing would could win (I don’t believe they could, but you never know), that is not the type of Canada I want. When I vote, I vote for a party that shares my values and I am not interested in Canada becoming a Trump like US of the north. I want a Canada that is forward looking, evidence based, tolerant, and compassionate. You can do all those things and still be conservative, but many further right are retrograde, go on ideology instead of evidence, intolerant of those who are not like them, and selfish. I get there are some people with pandemic and fast changing world who are angry and upset. No doubt both pandemic and recent changes have not been even in impact and have left some behind. And I can understand their frustration. But we need positive solutions to help improve things for this group, not appeal to rage and anger which in the end won’t make them better off or get rid of the things driving their anger.
But at same time, I do think there is good case for him to go. For a party to win they need to be united and that means either appealing to more right wing elements which I oppose or expunging them. If a leader cannot unite their own party, how are Canadians supposed to have confidence they can unite Canada? And likewise I prefer one who is consistent. Flip flopping just brings worst of both worlds. It angers right wing base who feel you are betraying them, but doesn’t win over moderates who don’t trust you are really one. I also think while O’Toole understands party must moderate and broaden its appeal; getting there won’t be easy. The more right wing elements are very nasty and you cannot play nice with them. You have to tell them in no uncertain terms, party is moderating, you are not getting what you want, and if you don’t like it, you will be shown the door. Ideologues unlike moderates don’t understand compromise, its an all or nothing for them. And O’Toole trying to find ways to reason with them or keep them happy just won’t work. Hopefully next leader shows them the door. As someone who visits UK once or twice a year, I follow their politics closely. While on left, Labour had same problem which lead to massive defeat in 2019. It was clear only way back was to purge the Corbynites and that is what Starmer has done. By contrast south of border, GOP tried to welcome the tea party and others further right and far from widening tent; that group just hijacked party and pushed out moderates. Both of these should be clear lesson that extremists on both right and left if given an inch, will take a mile.
So while I worry next leader will pander to further right elements, I also could see advantage of dumping him if next leader will marginalize them. Unfortunately understanding make up of party, I fear replacement will be worse. But since status quo not working, maybe its worth taking a chance or maybe not. I sometimes feel best thing for party would be to lose badly with a right wing ideologue and that would wake up people to fact no matter how bad Trudeau is, you cannot win on a strongly right wing platform. Unfortunately with how bad Trudeau is, we cannot afford another 7 years of Liberals, thus if there is a way to avoid this, I am for the chance. As such I honestly don’t know which is best path other than both very risky.
Party voted to remove Erin O’Toole and by large number 73-45 so not even close. Obviously with how divided party was, he could not continue as leader. But I do worry party will take wrong lesson here and move further right. I believe that is not way to go. Not only improves chances of Liberals winning, it also ensures if Tories do win due to Liberal fatigue, it will not end well. I really hope party stays moderate but not much optimism.