Postelection review to probe where Conservatives bled votes to People’s Party, NDP

Postelection review to probe where Conservatives bled votes to People’s Party, NDP

OTTAWA — The former MP leading the review into the Conservatives’ election performance says it will examine how Tories lost votes to Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada.

James Cumming, an Alberta representative who lost his seat to the Liberals’ Randy Boissonnault, says he will begin reaching out to candidates and campaign teams this week.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole tapped Cumming to review the party’s campaign after it was defeated by the Liberals and won two fewer seats than it did in the 2019 federal vote.

Cumming says he will probe the party’s campaign strategy, its ground game and the data it used, as well as O’Toole’s tour over the 36-day race.

One of the questions hanging over the Conservatives is the role Bernier’s right-wing populist party played in their loss.

During his second federal election as PPC leader, Bernier shifted his focus away from immigration and largely railed against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 health measures.

Although the PPC failed once again to win any seats in the House of Commons, the Tory review will examine how vote splitting on the right impacted Conservatives across the country.

“Anywhere that we’ve had bleed of vote, I think that that’s important that we study and understand what the factors were, so the PPC would represent some of that,” Cumming said in an interview.

“In Alberta we saw significant bleed of vote to the NDP, so that’s an entirely different situation … in all cases we have to look at where we performed and where we didn’t perform and do that analysis on a riding-by-riding basis, region-by-region basis to better understand what the dynamics are within that vote.”

O’Toole himself spent the final days of the campaign making increasingly direct warnings to Conservative supporters not to split the vote by casting a ballot for Bernier, cautioning that doing so would lead to another Liberal government.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2021.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press