In a secret caucus vote late on Wednesday, Conservative MPs gave the nod to Bergen to replace O’Toole after months of infighting severely weakened his hold over the party.
Bergen, who was deputy leader of the Conservatives under O’Toole, has represented the riding of Portage-Lisgar since 2008 and was Opposition House leader from 2016 to 2020.
Nine candidates were in the running for the interim position on Wednesday night, MP Scott Reid, the chair of the national Conservative caucus, said in a statement.
The selection of Bergen came hours after O’Toole was ousted from the leadership role, with 73 MPs voting to remove him and just 45 lining up in his support.
The vote was called after 35 MPs signed a petition over the weekend to put his leadership to the test.
In a recorded statement posted to social media Wednesday afternoon, O’Toole said that he accepted the results. But he had some parting comments about the direction of the party he would no longer lead.
“This country needs a Conservative party that is both an intellectual force and a governing force. Ideology without power is vanity. Seeking power with ideology is hubris,” O’Toole said.
O’Toole is the first party leader to be removed under a process outlined in the Reform Act, legislation passed in 2015 that allows a caucus to give members the power to trigger a leadership review.
Anger against his leadership had been simmering for months, sparked by September’s disappointing election results.
The Conservatives lost ground in crucial regions of the country, compared to 2019’s election loss.
Bergen will serve as the interim Conservative leader until a new permanent leader is chosen by the party members.
This will be the third leadership race since former prime minister Stephen Harper stepped down after losing to the Liberals in the 2015 election.
— with files from Global News’ Alex Boutilier, The Canadian Press