Former Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole is determining whether to make another bid to become the Conservative leader, in a Dec. 31, 2019 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Former Tory leadership candidate Erin O’Toole revving up for new campaign

OTTAWA — Former Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole held a five-hour meeting in the Toronto area Monday to suss out a plan to make another bid for the party’s top job.

About 20 people from across the country gathered to present O’Toole with a plan to win the upcoming contest, The Canadian Press has learned.

O’Toole placed third in the 2017 leadership race that ended with Andrew Scheer beating Maxime Bernier by a hair.

But Scheer announced earlier this month he’s resigning, a move that came after weeks of intense criticism of how he handled the October election.

Fred DeLorey, a veteran conservative organizer, said an accomplished group is ready to help O’Toole lead the party to victory in the next one.

“These are people who understand that we need Erin to keep our conservative coalition united and know he can win a leadership and ultimately defeat Justin Trudeau in a general election,” DeLorey said.

DeLorey ran O’Toole’s 2017 campaign, and has helped run several others, including get-out-the-vote efforts for Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

O’Toole’s ability to communicate in French and the fact he has “real life” experience were key themes in the meeting, one source in the room said.

O’Toole served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and went on to become a corporate lawyer. He entered politics in a 2012 byelection for the seat in the Toronto-area riding of Durham.

He went on to serve in cabinet in the last Conservative government.

O’Toole effectively handed Scheer his win in the 2017 race. Bernier had been in the lead until O’Toole’s name dropped off the ballot after the 11th round of voting. More of O’Toole’s supporters had selected Scheer as their next choice, so he won the race by less than a percentage point.

While a preferential ballot will again be used for the upcoming leadership vote, several other key elements have yet to be determined, including when it will be held.

A committee charged with figuring out the logistics around the race was only put together late last week. The leadership election organizing committee, as it is known, is being run by Lisa Raitt, another former leadership candidate and Conservative MP, and Dan Nowlan, who ran the 2017 contest.

Among the issues they’re wrestling with are the requirements to enter the contest. In 2017, candidate had to pay $100,000 and get signatures from 300 party members from at least 30 electoral districts in at least seven different provinces and territories.

Thirteen people met those requirements and debate is ongoing about whether setting the bar — financial or otherwise — higher would make for a smaller field, something many party members are hoping to see.

The timing of the race is also up in the air. A Conservative party policy convention scheduled for April has been pushed back to November. Some party members want the leadership vote held before, while others want a longer contest to allow for better debate.

Several potential candidates have been actively testing the waters for a leadership bid since Scheer stepped down.

Three of them — current MPs Pierre Poilievre and Gerard Deltell, and former cabinet minister Peter MacKay — all made an appearance at a high-profile Conservative Christmas party in Boucherville, Que., two weeks ago, shaking hands and posing for photos with party members.

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest is also considering a run, as is former interim party leader Rona Ambrose.

Meanwhile, Bryan Brulotte has stepped back from his job as CEO of the employment firm MaxSys to explore a bid. He has historic connections to the party, having worked for the Progressive Conservatives in the short-lived government of Kim Campbell.

Another potential candidate is Aron Seal, who is fashioning a campaign under the banner of being a “millennial conservative.” He worked as director of policy for former finance minister Jim Flaherty.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2019.

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

Just Posted

Ecologist Tony Blake was among several dozen area residents who participated in Tuesday’s public hearing on the future Molly Banister Drive extension. Blake argued for preserving trail connectedness and the wildlife corridor. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Molly Banister road extension stays

A nearly nine-hour public hearing ends with a 5-3 vote for keeping the road alignment

A server wears a mask at a restaurant, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Health officials receive thousands of COVID-related complaints

About 800 to 1,000 people call health officials weekly

Shaun Janse van Rensburg, a Red Deer resident, said he is tired of changing clocks twice a year. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
After COVID, Kenney may consider referendum on daylight savings

Albertans may be divided on several issues today, but there’s a consensus… Continue reading

The COVID-19 death toll in Alberta reached 309, according to numbers posted on the province’s website Tuesday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Another 422 COVID cases reported in Alberta and two more deaths

The Alberta government reported 422 COVID-19 cases Tuesday and two more virus… Continue reading

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
COVID-19 death toll verges on 10,000 as second wave continues to surge

Nearly 10,000 Canadians have died due to COVID-19, a mark of the… Continue reading

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts celebrates after a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning in Game 6 of the baseball World Series Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Best Betts: Dodgers win first World Series title since 1988

Best Betts: Dodgers win first World Series title since 1988

Wade Sira is shown in a handout photo. Sira, the leader of Saskatchewan's pro-independence Buffalo Party, says he's extremely happy with last night's provincial election results, even though no candidates clinched a seat.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Wade Sira MANDATORY CREDIT
Buffalo Party’s strong showing in Saskatchewan vote a warning to Moe: experts

Buffalo Party’s strong showing in Saskatchewan vote a warning to Moe: experts

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2019, file photo, Christian Coleman, of the United States, celebrates after crossing the line to win the gold medal in men's 100 meter final at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. (AP Photo/Nick Didlick)
World champion Coleman banned 2 yrs; to miss Tokyo Olympics

World champion Coleman banned 2 yrs; to miss Tokyo Olympics

Saskatchewan Roughriders kicker Brett Lauther returns to the sideline after missing his fourth field goal attempt during second half CFL action against the Edmonton Eskimos, in Regina, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019.  It's been a very difficult year for a number of kickers this year in the NFL, but CFL veteran Lauther continues to wait for his opportunity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor
Former Riders kicker Brett Lauther patiently awaiting opportunity to kick in the NFL

Former Riders kicker Brett Lauther patiently awaiting opportunity to kick in the NFL

Nashville SC midfielder Randall Leal, left, is congratulated by Alex Muyl after scoring a goal during the first half of the team's MLS soccer match against the Montreal Impact, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Willis gets MLS-leading 9th shutout, Nashville tops Montreal

Willis gets MLS-leading 9th shutout, Nashville tops Montreal

Kansas City mayor, star quarterback want Raptors to make Missouri temporary home

Kansas City mayor, star quarterback want Raptors to make Missouri temporary home

Djokovic, Thiem advance after slow starts in Vienna openers

Djokovic, Thiem advance after slow starts in Vienna openers

Most Read