Canada needs fewer “lifers” and “career politicians” in politics, according to Conservative MP Erin O’Toole.
And he is making the case that he isn’t one of them.
O’Toole spoke with The West Block guest host Eric Sorensen amid speculation over recent weeks that he is considering making a run for the Conservative leadership.
He wouldn’t say whether he’s made a decision, but acknowledged that he has been having talks since Andrew Scheer announced he’s stepping down.
“I’m talking to a lot of people who called me after Andrew’s news and we’re seeing how we can grow to win,” O’Toole said.
“I’m not a career politician … I think Canada needs more doers in politics and less lifers, and that’s going to be part of the discussion.”
O’Toole, 46, was first elected to the House of Commons in 2012 and finished third in the last Conservative leadership race behind Scheer and Maxime Bernier, who quit the Conservatives to form an upstart populist party that failed to win any seats in the last election.
Before entering politics, O’Toole spent roughly 15 years as a navigator with the Royal Canadian Air Force before leaving in 2000 to get a law degree and pursue corporate law, which he did until 2011.
His aim at “career politicians” comes as speculation about who will run to replace Scheer heats up.
Plenty of names have been the focus of rumours: among them, familiar faces like Rona Ambrose, Pierre Poilievre, Michelle Rempel Garner, Peter MacKay and O’Toole, along with relative newcomers like Marilyn Gladu, who confirmed her candidacy last week.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announced last month he will step down from the position once the party chooses a replacement.
That came after he lost the campaign for the Oct. 21 election and as anger erupted within the party over the revelation he had been using donor funds towards paying the cost of having his kids in private school.
He had also faced questions about his background — in particular, whether his claims to understand the financial difficulties of the average Canadian were accurate, given his six-figure salary earnings as a member of Parliament since the age of 25 and having received taxpayer-funded housing since 2011.
His opposition to gay marriage and reproductive rights were cited by critics, Conservative strategists and campaign staff as a factor in why his party failed to make the necessary inroads in the Greater Toronto Area and Quebec to form government.
Both areas are seat-rich and play a critical role in determining which party takes power.
O’Toole addressed those challenges with Global News, stressing that the party needs to be able to win in those key regions.
“We have to win in the Greater Toronto Area,” he said. “We have to grow in the suburbs of the Lower Mainland of B.C. Atlantic Canada, Quebec — there’s huge opportunities for us to win and so let’s use this as a way to grow the party.”
So how does he want to party to do that?
Not just by talking about the economy, he said.
“We also have to talk about other issues they’re concerned about. Lowering greenhouse gases: how do we leverage Canadian technology to do that? I’ve been talking about that for many years,” he said, while also pointing to resource development as a way to support Indigenous employment.
“Conservatives need to find conservative solutions to the problems facing our country.”
The Conservatives will pick their leader on June 27, 2020.
The rules for that race have not yet been released.