Four days before the Canadian election, Steven Loughnan drove 90 minutes from his home in Prospect Village, Nova Scotia, to Truro just to hear Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole speak.
After the rally at the local farmer’s market, the self-identified red Tory Loughnan said it was worth the trip because of where O’Toole is hosting the party.
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âIt’s a different party than it was when Stephen Harper was Prime Minister, and I think Mr. O’Toole is a realist,â Loughnan told Global News.
Loughnan says he considered quitting the party last March when delegates to the party convention rejected including climate change in official Conservative party policy.
âYou know, you don’t have to think too hard to realize climate change is real, and you’ll hear that from Mr O’Toole,â Loughnan said.
In her nearly 13 months as the head of the Conservative Party of Canada, Erin O’Toole has led the Conservatives more to the center of the political spectrum, with what many see as more progressive policies, than her predecessors.
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âThe center is where the path to power is. Anyone can get the center, and the Liberals have gone out and tried to be more to the left than the NDP, in my opinion. And the Conservatives are at the center right now, âTony Lipiec said after a rally in St. Catharines, Ont., Friday night.
Lipiec is impressed not only with O’Toole as a person, but also with his politics.
â(O’Toole) came up with a plan and it’s not just about spending money and that’s the bottom line. It’s actually, you’re going to have a plan, a logical plan, âLipiec said.
O’Toole calls himself a âreally blueâ Tory, but in his leadership victory speech he directly called on Indigenous, LGBTQ2 and racialized Canadians to be reflected in his party.
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“I know some of you may be hesitant because of things you may have heard or slightly out of date impressions,” O’Toole said in a speech in Saguenay Quebec five days before the election.
O’Toole even said it wasn’t your grandfather’s Conservative Party – while gaining the approval of the grandfather of Canadian conservatism, former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
“The fact that he put Brian Mulroney on the campaign trail for the first time since Brian Mulroney’s last campaign to become Prime Minister says a lot about O’Toole’s appeal to different branches, not only the Conservative Party, but other Canadians. Said Tim Powers, president of Summa Strategies.
Powers believes that the Conservative parties that win government are parties that change form and sometimes structure from previous versions.
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“I think if Mr. O’Toole had had more time before this election he might have pushed the Conservative Party more aggressively towards a center-right position,” Powers told Global News in an interview.
The question now is how much time will he have after the election if the Conservatives do not form the government. Andrew Scheer was quickly ousted from his post as leader in 2019 after helping to reduce the Liberals to a minority government.
On the eve of the election, there are no rumors that O’Toole suffers the same fate, but there are fears that if he loses, progress will also be lost.
âIf he doesn’t win on Monday, I would hate to see the Conservative Party back down and attribute any loss to the positions they’ve taken,â Powers said.
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