Despite being ousted from the Conservative caucus by Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole in Nov. 2021, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)’s Saskatchewan caucus voted to stand behind Senator Denise Batters remaining in the regional caucus, a source told the Hill Times on Friday.
The source said the overwhelming majority of MPs voted to confirm the continued participation of Batters in a special meeting on Thursday.
Batters referred all questions from the Hill Times to Saskatchewan CPC caucus chair Kevin Waugh, who declined to comment because of caucus confidentiality.
Official Opposition Leader’s Office spokesperson Matthew Clancey offered comments, however, saying that even though the senator had been expelled from the national caucus, “she could continue to attend regional and Senate caucus.”
Clancey did not answer questions from the Hill Times about why the Saskatchewan caucus held a vote on Batters if she had never been removed.
Batters had launched a petition in November calling on the Conservatives to hold a review of leader Erin O’Toole’s leadership within six months. She said she started the petition as a referendum on O’Toole, accusing him of causing division in the party.
“Under Erin O’Toole’s leadership, the rift in our party is growing – he told us ‘This is not your grandfather’s Conservative party’ and warned campaigning MPs they must agree 100% with his ‘new direction’ – which constantly changes – or get out of caucus,” she said.
O’Toole ejected Batters from the party’s caucus the day after she launched the petition, accusing her of “a clear lack of respect” towards the party’s caucus.
“As the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, I will not tolerate an individual discrediting and showing a clear lack of respect towards the efforts of the entire Conservative caucus, who are holding the corrupt and disastrous Trudeau government to account,” O’Toole said.
Batters fired back at party leadership in December, saying the national council must listen to its members and hold an early leadership review for O’Toole.
She made the statement after receiving an email from CPC president Robert Batherson stating that the national council had found her petition “invalid.”
“The question you are proposing to ask in a referendum does not adhere to the constitution of the Conservative Party of Canada,” wrote Batherson. “Your petition is not in order as it does not adhere to sections 7, 10 and 12 of the constitution.”
Following Batherson’s letter, a former member of the CPC’s national council accused the organization of an “indefensible attempt” to silence thousands of party members.
Batters’s petition has received more than 7,600 supporters as of Tuesday.
The petition website states CPC members are supporting this petition “because Erin O’Toole has reversed his own positions from his leadership campaign, betrayed Conservative principles, lost seats in the election and cannot win the next election.”