A man is silhouetted walking past a Conservative Party logo before the opening of the Party’s national convention in Halifax, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

A man is silhouetted walking past a Conservative Party logo before the opening of the Party’s national convention in Halifax, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Five things to know about next week’s Conservative policy convention

O’Toole’s first convention as leader

OTTAWA — Conservative party members will meet virtually next week for what officials say will be the largest convention in their history.

The three-day event is the first since Erin O’Toole was elected leader last summer, and also since the last federal election.

Each of the party’s conventions since their founding one in 2005 has seen robust debate around conservative policies and principles, and this year’s is no different.

Among the hot-button issues: anti-abortion groups want to force the party to take a harder stand in their favour, and the grassroots wants more say and transparency around how the party is run.

The convention will also feature an update on the party’s financials, and a speech from O’Toole that’s expected to lay some groundwork for how he intends to campaign in the next federal election.

Here are five things to know about the event.

1) This convention is O’Toole’s first as leader and could be his last. This event was originally scheduled for April 2020, six months after the party failed to form government in the fall 2019 election. The party’s constitution mandates a leadership review at the convention following an election they don’t win so members would have had a chance to decide whether leader Andrew Scheer should stay. He quit before that could happen. The convention was put off until November 2020 due to the leadership race, and then put off again due to the pandemic. If O’Toole also fails to win government the next time Canadians go to the polls, he’d face a leadership review at the next convention in two years.

2) Abortion issues will not be part of the policy debate. Just 34 policy ideas will be put to a vote by delegates in a streamlined process set up due to the virtual nature of the event. None are explicitly about abortion, despite the best efforts of some well-organized groups, who allege the low number of policies up for a vote was done on purpose to keep their pitches off the agenda.

3) To change the party’s policy declaration or amend its constitution requires not just a majority of votes from delegates overall but also a majority of votes cast by delegates from every province, what the party refers to as a double majority. Even if something clears that high bar, it doesn’t mean a policy will make it into the next election platform. For example, when’s the last time you heard a Conservative leader call for an actuarial audit of the medicare system? That’s in the policy document, but has not been a recent electoral promise.

4) The constitutional changes being advanced could shape the party for years to come. It’s always billed itself as being led by the “grassroots” but frustrations have emerged about the interplay between the national council, the party’s main fundraising arm known as the Fund, and the leader. Efforts to amend the constitution to change those relationships will be voted on, but a bigger symbolic change could come if anti-abortion groups are successful in finding a procedural workaround that puts their policies into the constitution.

5) Things will move fast. Political conventions are infamous for getting bogged down by myriad points of order, suggested amendments and long rants from passionate members seeking to speak to every item on the agenda. The virtual event means organizers have shut the door on many of those options to try and focus the process. But they’re also trying for a virtual version of another convention hallmark: hospitality suites.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2021.

Conservative Party of Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains eyes a loose puck in front of the Medicine Hat Tigers net Saturday night in WHL action at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels fall short in 12th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 (Saturday) Tigers 3 Rebels 2 (Monday) The Red… Continue reading

Red Deer property owners will receive their 2019 property assessment notices in the next few days.  (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer awaiting more details on how federal budget impacts city

The City of Red Deer is awaiting more information on how much… Continue reading

With a ban on sit-in dining once again in place, Las Palmeras owner Andre Lemus is gearing up for more takeout and delivery business. He has also applied to set up an outdoor patio, where dining is allowed under new restrictions. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Big interest in outdoor patios in Red Deer as sit-down dining banned again

City of Red Deer has tweaked its patio regulations to make it easier to get a permit

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, scores on Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during second-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Priestman says her goal is to help Canada move up the Olympic podium after back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira
Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Canada's Brendan Bottcher dropped a 6-3 decision to Scotland's Bruce Mouat in the men's final of the Humpty's Champions Cup. Bottcher makes a shot against Scotland at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Stewart Cink watches his drive down the second fairway during the final round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Cink coasts to win at Hilton Head for 2nd title of season

Cink coasts to win at Hilton Head for 2nd title of season

The Official UEFA Champions League match balls are on display ahead of the Champions League quarter final second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Threats of expulsion as UEFA confronts Super League rebel 12

Threats of expulsion as UEFA confronts Super League rebel 12

San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) motions to the crowd during a break to mark his passing Gordie Howe for most NHL games played in the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, April 19, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Sharks’ Marleau breaks Howe’s NHL games played record

Sharks’ Marleau breaks Howe’s NHL games played record

Most Read