Conservatives must be professional, show they are an alternative to Trudeau: O'Toole

·2 min read

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole and his caucus put on a show of solidarity today, exactly a week after he was explaining why he decided to kick out a senator for publicly denouncing his leadership.

O'Toole was presented with a hockey jersey that British Columbia MP Bob Zimmer says came from caucus "to our captain."

Before that, MPs chanted O'Toole's name after listening to a speech where he railed against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government and his "ideological cabinet."

He accused the Liberals of wanting to shut down industries, and told MPs Conservatives were going to be the voices for farmers, energy and autoworkers, as well as families struggling to afford the cost of living.

O'Toole says the country needs Conservatives to be a "professional, ethical and experienced" team to hold Trudeau accountable, and appear as a clear alternative for government.

His speech comes amid calls for his leadership to be put to the test after losing the election, and departing from the "true blue" Conservative image he presented to win over members to secure the party's top spot.

Sen. Denise Batters, a party stalwart, announced last week she was collecting signatures from members in hopes it would force O'Toole to undergo a leadership review within the next six months instead of waiting until 2023.

O'Toole kicked her out, but she still remains a member of the Conservative Senate caucus, suggesting senators didn't want to follow his lead.

Besides facing leadership questions, O'Toole is also still dealing with questions over how many of his members are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and how many have medical exemptions, details he refuses to release.

Heading into Wednesday's caucus meeting, MPs passed by tables with masks and rapid tests.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2021

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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