Erin O 'Toole, the leader of the Conservative Party, brought his party to a statistical tie in the polls with the Liberals.
OTTAWA - Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O 'Toole is missing the fame, celebrity pedigree and charismatic hair of Liberal Party rival Prime MMinister Justin Trudeau. A former business lawyer with nine years of service in the House of Commons, he entered the early election campaign again as his party leader, unknown to most Canadians and not particularly popular even among many conservatives .
Yet Mr. O 'Toole, 48, the son of a former provincial legislator, has made remarkable progress since last month when the premier unexpectedly called the election , in part by rejecting many of the traditionally conservative positions he defended to win his post.
Poll results in recent weeks have shown growing support for both Mr. O 'Toole and his party, as he has fallen for Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals. To whatOn Monday's election days, the Conservatives and Liberals, who get the most support in Canada's multi-party system, are locked into a statistical link at about 30% each.
But because Conservative support is concentrated and heavily concentrated in certain regions, especially the province of Alberta most pollsters and political analysts say Mr O 'Toole would have to dramatically increase his party's current support, perhaps five or six percentage points, to secure enough seats in the House of Commons to remove Mr. Trudeau from power. Je mage Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, during an election campaign stop in Surrey, British Columbia, on Monday. Credit ... Carlos Osorio / Reuters
The change in the polls may be as much about the decline of the Liberals as it is the rise of the Conservatives.
Mr. Trudeau has been in power for six years; Right now, many Canadians find him more irritating than inspiring, and he has offered no convincing answer to a main question surrounding this snap election: why is it being held at all now, two years ahead of schedule? The Prime Minister's argument that he needs a strong majority of seats in the House of Commons to lead the pandemic recovery has left a lot of people hanging out.ns conviction, because he has already done it with a plurality.
However, it is also true that Mr. O 'Toole has been busy reshaping his party to broaden its appeal. He's taken this kind of campaign bet before, going from moderation to more extreme views before turning back the clock, a tactic that helped him win the party leadership last year.
Before this campaign, he reversed his vow never to introduce carbon taxes and rejected the position of social conservatives on issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights. Mid-campaign, he canceled a pledge at Repeal Mr. Trudeau 's ban on approximately 1,500 assault rifles. Although this is an approach that seems to work, it behavesthere are also risks.
"The biggest challenge for every Conservative leader is figuring out how to balance Conservative Party of Canada members with the kind of people they need to vote for the Conservative Party, ”said Ken Boessenkool, a former Conservative campaign strategist from Alberta. "These two groups of people live on different planets.
Mr. O 'Toole entered politics relatively late in his life. He attended the Royal Military College of Canada in hopes of becoming a fighter pilot, but instead spent 12 years as a navigator in the Canadian fleet of helicopters on board at the time.
When Mr. O 'Toole was in college, his father left a managerial position at General Motors ' s Canadian headquarters east of Toronto to become a Conservative member of the Provincial Legislative Assembly, poste, which he held for 19 years.
A door opened for Mr. O 'Toole to enter politics in 2012, after working for two large law firms in Toronto and later as a corporate lawyer at Procter & Gamble Canada . A cabinet minister resigned from the seat in the electoral district where Mr. O 'Toole had grown up and lived since returning from studying law, in Durham, Ontario.
Mr. O 'Toole, who had become active in the Conservative Party while studying law, won the special election created by the vacant post in 2012. (Mr. O ' Toole still lives in Durham Region today 'hui with his wife Rebecca, a corporate affairs consultant and event planner, andtheir two children.)
Then, in 2015, he held a 10-month cabinet position in Stephen Harper's government as Minister of veterans, after the previous one was demoted after a difficult exchange with veterans over service cuts and pension benefits.
In 2017, Mr. O 'Toole sought in vain to replace Mr. Harper as party leader, posing as moderate. Last year, he won with an extreme right-wing approach, posing as a" true blue conservative "(blue is the color of the party) who promised to" take back ”Canada. Once hewon, however, Mr O 'Toole repudiated much of it - making an appeal to trade unionists, a group rarely courted by conservatives in the past, while noting that he would not reopen the debate. on abortion.
In preparation for next week's vote, Mr. O 'Toole and colleagues studied the efforts of David Cameron, the 'former British Prime Minister, at modernize the Conservative Party of this country. And just like Mr. Trudeau did in 2015, they sought to target voters who normally do not show up on the election day.
For Mr. Trudeau, it was the youngest. For Mr. O 'Toole, they are blue collar workers worried about the future of their jobs and annoyed, even angry, by what they consider to be the politically correct from Mr. Trudeau.
Lori Turnbull, professor of political science at Dalhousie University, said that the experience of the British Conservatives shows that the The idea has merit, but it also poses a challenge to the party machinery on election day.
"The question then is, are they actually going to come out for him? "she said.
Mr. O 'Toole has also worked on improving his diet and increasing his exercise levels, losing 40 pounds in the past year.
Above all, however, he 's focused on his new moderate campaign platform, which is available as a 160 page glossy magazine. Mr. O 'Toole changed his leadership campaign slogan "Let's Take Back Canada" to "We Have a Plan. Image Mr. O 'Toole , seen here during a campaign stop in North Vancouver this month, changed its tagline "Let's Take Canada Back " to "We have a plan ". Credit ... Jennifer Gauthier / Reuters
Until this week, Mr. O 'Toole has done much of his campaigning in virtual town halls streamed from a studio in temporary television not far from Parliament in downtown Ottawa. who had questions about his platform's page numbers with the answers. At one point he typed his copy of the platform on the table to emphasize its weight.
"We have a plan to get the country back on its feet after 18 difficult months in thisyou crisis; I am a pro-choice ally of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, ”said Mr. O 'Toole, sounding like Mr. Trudeau at the opening of the debate in English.
In recent days, Mr. Trudeau has argued during campaign stoppages that Mr. O 'Toole's shift was misleading. A review process Mr. O 'Toole is proposing could facilitate the repeal of even the assault weapons law that he said he would not touch. And Mr. O 'Toole opposes compulsory vaccination and vaccine passports, a position that polls suggest only far-right members of his party support.
Duane Bratt, ap A political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alta., said the Conservatives' current ranking in the polls means its core members are willing to ignore the 'abandonment of issues that are essential to them, at leastfor now.
"If O 'Toole does not become Prime Minister, the danger will be to keep this party together," said Professor Bratt . “There are some Tories who basically say, 'OK, we're going to give this O’Toole thing a chance, let's see if it works. And if not, do they come back? "
Vjosa Isai contributed to the research.