St. Albert MP Michael Cooper says the new leader of the federal Conservative Party will bring a positive, conservative vision for Canada and will work toward bringing more members into the party.
Erin O'Toole was named the party's new leader Sunday night after three rounds of ballots, defeating Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.
Although Cooper endorsed MacKay during the leadership race, he said he has just as much confidence in O'Toole, whom he had endorsed the last time the party was picking a new leader.
“Everybody is ready to move forward and support Erin as the leader of the party,” Cooper said.
“He brings a great deal of experience as someone who understands everyday Canadians and the challenges they face, as a husband, father, veteran, defence lawyer and former cabinet minister. He is someone who has the depth of experience to lead the party.”
The new party leader has spent eight years as an MP, winning his first seat in 2012 for Durham, Ont. In 2015, he was appointed as Minister of Veterans Affairs. He ran for party leadership in 2017 and came in third place. Prior to his public service, O'Toole built a career as a commissioned officer with the Air Force. After completing his military service, he became a lawyer.
O’Toole has a strong grasp of public policy and a lot of life experience, Cooper said, adding the party will now be putting forward pro-growth policies to help lead Canada through a post-COVID-19 recovery.
Cooper said the party will also promote pro-energy policies that the current Liberal government has not embraced and O’Toole has signalled he will ease tensions in Western Canada.
Cooper said bringing in new members and being an inclusive party will be a priority moving forward.
“(O’Toole) recognized that the Conservative Party needs to be inclusive – and we are inclusive, but many Canadians don't necessarily see themselves in or don't identify with the Conservative Party, and I think that's something that Erin is going to work toward. Because we have to unite Conservatives.”
After his win, O’Toole said in his acceptance speech he would work to smooth over any rifts in the party.
"I believe that whether you are Black, white, brown or from any race or creed, whether you are LGBT or straight, whether you are an Indigenous Canadian or have joined the Canadian family three weeks ago or three generations ago, whether you're doing well or barely getting by ... you are an important part of Canada and you have a home in the Conservative Party of Canada," O’Toole said.
O’Toole was announced the winner of the race early Monday morning after delays and glitches in the ballot processing system. The final results were delayed by over four hours.
On Monday, O’Toole met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about emergency pandemic funding, Western alienation and the government's decision to prorogue Parliament.
Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette