On Wednesday, 73 of 118 Tory MPs voted to remove Erin O’Toole as party leader, hoisting Candace Bergen to the top of the caucus for now.
The party is seeking to occupy the spot permanently, but the split in the caucus on issues could make that a challenge. Dr. Howard Leeson is adjunct professor and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Regina and served as the province’s first deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs in 1979. Leeson says the issue of division dates back long before the pandemic to this party. . He says the party has not recovered since the 1988 elections.
“The dissolution of the whole coalition that Brian Mulroney put together, which dissolved into the Bloc Québécois and the Reform Party, I don’t think the (Conservative) party came together as well as it would have wish.”
As for O’Toole’s downfall, Leeson says he wasn’t shocked.
“I think we were all surprised at how quickly this happened, but for those of us who watch politics closely, it seemed like it was happening,” Leeson said. He also could have predicted Candace Bergen’s success in taking the top spot. “She did a good job as assistant chief, so there was a general feeling that she was up to the task.”
The question of who will definitively become the leader of the party remains unresolved.
“You just have to go with people who have been in the media, so I think there are several favorites,” Leeson says. Pierre Poilievre is the first MP to throw his hat in the ring, with an announcement on social media on Saturday.
It looks like Poilievre will have to wait a long time to find out if he can call himself the next Tory leader. Leeson says that process could take at least a year.
“As we know from last time, one person can start pretty far ahead, and in the end it might not be the person who wins,” Leeson says. He attributed the long wait to several different things, including, the new leader will need time to settle in, the pandemic and its effects on the economy are still unknown, and the minority parliament.
Leeson says the future of the Conservative Party is difficult to project because it all depends on whether or not the party takes a hard turn to the right or maintains the course it is currently on.
Written by Hayley Shirkey – Discover Moosejaw