Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday February 3, 2022
Did the truckers get Erin O’Toole fired?
Only days ago, O’Toole could have expected that he was safe until a scheduled leadership review in mid-2023. But in a surprise Wednesday morning caucus vote, he was turfed out by a margin of 73 to 45. Just like another former Tory leader, Andrew Scheer, he’s going to stick around as an MP.
O’Toole’s ouster marks the first time since the Second World War that Tories have elected two consecutive party leaders who have failed to become prime minister. The only comparable episode came in the waning days of the Progressive Conservative party, when members chewed through three leaders until eventually disbanding to merge with the Canadian Alliance. Conservatives have traditionally been more patient with their leaders; Progressive Conservative Leader Robert Stanfield was notably allowed to lose three elections in a row (1968, 1972 and 1974) without any kind of caucus revolt.
Is it an accident that the Conservatives decided to ditch their not-tremendously-conservative leader while a giant populist trucker demonstration was outside honking their horns? The truckers don’t seem to think so; a post to their official Facebook page just after O’Toole’s ouster stated “WE NEED PARTY LEADERS THAT REPRESENT THE TRUE VOICES OF CANADIANS.” The convoy also provided the pretext for a pretty noticeable fissure within the Conservative caucus. While O’Toole met with demonstrators , he otherwise distanced himself from the protest and ultimately denounced it. Meanwhile, more right-leaning MPs such as Pierre Poilievre, Leslyn Lewis and Mike Lake were handing out coffee and defending anti-mandate protesters in the House of Commons.
One weird facet of Wednesday morning’s event: The meeting was virtual, so O’Toole’s final speech pleading for his political life had to be delivered into a webcam.
As the Conservatives are now left to roll the dice on a new leader, we here at First Reading took a close look at the Conservative Party constitution and discovered a notable loophole wherein that leader does not need to be human. Membership in the party requires Canadian citizenship or permanent residency, both of which are reserved exclusively to “persons” under federal law. However, the rules do not stipulate that a leader has to be a party member, potentially leaving the door open for Conservatives to replace O’Toole with any number of animals or inanimate objects. (The National Post)