Another Conservative riding calls for vote on O'Toole's leadership

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole faced questions Thursday about his most recent calls urging the government to 'accommodate' those who choose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, amid a surge of Omicron cases that is overloading health-care workers.

A second Conservative riding association is calling on party leadership to put Erin O’Toole’s leadership to a vote.

The Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek riding in Saskatchewan recently passed a motion calling for a leadership review no later than June 15 to “ensure a united and strong Conservative Party of Canada in preparation for an election which could be called at any time in a minority parliament.”

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Conservative riding association joins call for vote on O’Toole’s leadership

The wording almost exactly mirrors a motion passed by the Foothills Conservative riding association in Alberta, which Global News reported Monday was the first electoral district association (EDA) to call for an accelerated vote on O’Toole’s leadership. Levi Derksen, the Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek riding president, told Global News that they were inspired by the Foothills motion, but that they did not co-ordinate with other EDAs.

“We are representing members who have concerns about the policy direction that the current leadership is taking the party,” Derksen wrote in a statement.

Derksen said Kelly Block, the ridings’ Conservative MP, was not involved with the motion but “supports the independence of her EDA board.”

Co-ordinated or not, the calls for an expedited leadership review is another headache for O’Toole as he prepares for a potentially difficult caucus retreat later this week. The meetings, which begin tomorrow, will include the findings of former MP James Cumming’s review into where O’Toole’s 2021 campaign fell short.

Lingering concerns within the Conservative caucus over Bill 21 — the Quebec law banning religious garb worn by public sector employees — is also expected to be a topic of discussion.

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Bill 21 is Quebec issue, O’Toole says as some of his MPs take tougher stand

So far, most of the public challenges to O’Toole’s continued leadership appear to be coming from the party’s western heartland. In addition to the Foothills and Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek motions, Saskatchewan Sen. Denise Batters fronted a petition late last year calling on the party to move ahead the leadership review, currently slated for August 2023.

O’Toole booted Batters from national caucus for speaking up, but she remained a member of the Conservatives’ Senate caucus. Last week, Saskatchewan MPs voted to include Batters in their regional caucus meetings.

Asked for comment Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Conservative Party said the leadership was aware of the Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek motion and it was one of a “very few (EDAs) across Canada (that) have expressed an opinion to have an earlier review than what is currently scheduled.”

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O’Toole facing crucial test as Conservative MPs gather for caucus retreat

Cory Hann, the party’s director of communications, noted that the Conservative national council “nearly unanimously” voted in late 2020 to hold the next national convention in 2023. That convention will include a leadership review, should O’Toole remain leader at that point.

“National council always considers the diverse views of our members and electoral district associations in our decision making, in concert with our responsibility to respect the constitution that is set by grassroots Conservative Party members at every national convention,” Hann wrote in a statement.

— with files from David Akin.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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