Newly elected Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said triggering a fall election is “not my priority.”
On an episode of The West Block, O’Toole told Global News’ Mercedes Stephenson he would be more focused on making sure the novel coronavirus pandemic was “understood from a health perspective,” creating jobs and saving small businesses as federal emergency programs wound down.
“We’re sharpening our sword. We’ll be ready to fight. But that’s not my priority,” he said.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said on Aug. 12 he would try to force a fall election if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his chief of staff Katie Telford and now-former finance minister Bill Morneau did not resign in the wake of the WE Charity scandal.
Six days later, Trudeau announced he had asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament — a move which ended the current session and effectively killed any unfinished business, including bills and committees.
O’Toole accused the Liberals of proroguing Parliament because opposition members were “destroying them” during WE Charity committee hearings, which were assembled to probe the more controversial aspects of Trudeau’s decision to award the organization with a now-scrapped $900 million contract.
The same day Trudeau suspended the government, he said the purpose of the prorogation was to force a confidence vote on the Liberals’ new plan for the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and begin a new session the same day Parliament was set to return originally.
If the Conservatives wanted to bring down the Liberal government in a confidence vote, they would need the backing of another opposition party to gain enough support.
O’Toole also claimed Trudeau was trying to “take advantage of a pandemic and a crisis for an election” and hiding “the full extent of (the government’s) mismanagement from Canadians.”
“Let’s not kid anybody watching at home. This is what Justin Trudeau was doing,” he said.
“I’m going to run an ethical government that’s focused on the well-being of Canadians, not on the well-being of Liberal lobbyists.”
Without giving specifics, O’Toole said during the interview he had a plan to save small businesses, adding that many small businesses didn’t qualify for rent assistance or business assistance loans during the pandemic.
His online platform promises to expand Canada’s Emergency Business Account, introduce new hiring incentives by promoting reduced EI premiums for small and medium-sized businesses and introducing temporary amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency and Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Acts.
O’Toole said he hoped to earn the trust of voters during the next election.
“They know the conservatives are strong on job creation and the economy, safe communities, a principled approach in the world,” he said.
“I’m not about dressing up and making everything about me as Justin Trudeau is. I’m about making it about you, about Canadian families who are worried after the pandemic.”