Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole avoided questions on an early leadership review during a brief press conference held shortly following the party’s first post-election caucus meeting.
During the press conference, O’Toole announced former MP James Cumming would be chairing the election campaign review, which O’Toole said would be concluded by the “end of this year.
Cumming was the Conservative MP in Edmonton Centre, but lost to former Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault in the Sept. 20 election.
“I’m resolutely committed to reviewing every element of the campaign, and my family and I are resolutely committed to the next chapter in our party’s fight for this great country,” said O’Toole.
During the caucus meeting, the incoming group of Conservative MPs chose to adopt all of their available powers under the Reform Act, meaning caucus now has power to elect a chair, boot an MP or oust O’Toole as leader and appoint an interim leader.
O’Toole said Tuesday he supported caucus voting in favour of these measures, but noted he and his colleagues are “united.”
When asked whether he would fast track a leadership review by grassroots Conservative members, which is currently slated for 2023, O’Toole skirted the question.
“Will you ask the party to hold a vote among membership on your leadership within six months?” asked a reporter.
“We had a discussion with the caucus today. It was a very important discussion as a team, as a family. In fact, it was the first time I was ever able to gather with my entire team in one room because of the pandemic. We are all disappointed with the result of the election, no one more so than me. Which is why today, we announced Mr. Cumming will be conducting the review,” said O’Toole.
A growing contingent within the party has been calling for the removal of O’Toole as leader since he was unable to materialize any gains for the Conservatives this election despite taking the party towards the centre in order to attract Liberal and progressive voters.
One petition by party National Council member Bert Chen calling for O’Toole to be recalled has nearly 5,000 signatures as of Tuesday. On the other hand, a petition in support of O’Toole has yet to surpass 2,500 signatures.
In response to Chen’s petition, Conservative Party of Canada president Rob Batherson has threatened to drop Chen from the council.