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OTTAWA, Feb 1 (Reuters) – The leader of Canada’s official opposition Conservatives, under fire after losing an election to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year, said he would resist efforts to some of his party’s lawmakers to oust him.
Some disgruntled Tories say Leader Erin O’Toole pushed the right-wing party too far into the political center during the campaign for the Sept. 20 election, including backing the idea of a carbon tax to tackle climate change.
O’Toole said the move was necessary to lure more moderate voters away from Trudeau’s Liberals. The gamble failed, resulting in a third consecutive electoral defeat for the Conservatives and a second consecutive minority government for the Liberals.
“I’m not going anywhere and I’m not going back. Canada needs us to be united and serious!” O’Toole said in a series of Twitter posts Monday night.
Some 35 lawmakers have signed a letter calling for a swift leadership review and all 119 Tory MPs could vote on O’Toole’s fate as early as Wednesday.
“It’s time for accountability. To settle this in caucus. Here. Right now. Once and for all,” O’Toole said, adding that if the party veered too far to the right, the outcome would be “angry, negative, and extreme.”
Dissident Conservative lawmaker Garnett Genuis said he was “very sad to see Erin O’Toole making more false personal attacks against members of his own team” and called on the leader to resign.
If the turmoil gets too deep, the party – created in 2003 by the merger of the moderate Progressive Conservatives and the more populist Canadian Alliance – could split in two.
Some prominent Conservatives have backed a protest by truckers blocking central Ottawa, the nation’s capital. The protest, ostensibly against COVID-19 vaccination mandates for truckers, turned into an anti-Trudeau anti-government rally.
Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Paul Simao
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