O’Toole ousted as leader, Conservative Quebec lieutenant Alain Rayes reacts

By Geoff Agombar – Local Journalism Initiative
O’Toole ousted as leader, Conservative Quebec lieutenant Alain Rayes reacts
(Photo : Courtesy)

Erin O’Toole has resigned as Leader of the Official Opposition and of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) after nearly two-thirds of his caucus voted for his ouster in a non-confidence vote yesterday.

In a video statement released via social media, O’Toole said he will continue to represent his riding in parliament and vowed “unwavering loyalty” to whoever wins the leadership race to replace him.

O’Toole’s Durham riding is situated in the vote-rich band of Southern Ontario which has played a decisive role in several recent federal elections. Winning seats in that region was a key component of Stephen Harper’s winning campaigns.

Like his predecessor Andrew Sheer, O’Toole held leadership of the party for a single election cycle, winning more votes but fewer seats as Justin Trudeau’s Liberals formed minority governments. Sheer was preceded by interim leader Rona Ambrose and led the party for 13 months, before handing off to O’Toole in August 2020. O’Toole’s term as leader lasted just over 15 months.

Candice Bergen, MP for Portage-Lisgar riding in Manitoba, has been chosen as Interim Leader of the party and opposition. Bergen had been Deputy Leader under O’Toole, a role she held under Sheer and Ambrose as well. Bergen also served as Minister of State for Social Development in Harper’s cabinet.

Alain Rayes, MP for Richmond-Arthabaska, has been Quebec lieutenant for both O’Toole and Sheer. Rayes sees yesterday’s decision as emblematic of a desire to win, drawing a comparison to the Montreal Canadiens hiring a coach, then deciding the chemistry was not right, “They are convinced that it’s the right person to win the Stanley Cup, but after two-three years the team realizes that the coach has not succeeded in creating the buy-in, the team cohesion.”

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