Erin O’Toole draws large group of supporters

Erin OToole Home Place

The Leader of Canada’s Official Opposition Party, Erin O’Toole, made a stop in Kneehill County on Saturday, July 10th as part of his southern Alberta tour, in conjunction with Stampede festivities. Over 200 people, mostly members of the Conservative Party, attended the by-invite -only event at Home Place Ranch west of Three Hills. This was O’Toole’s third event of five on Saturday.

Hosting Mr. O’Toole was Battle River – Crowfoot MP Damien Kurek, Bow River MP Martin Shields, and Red Deer – Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen. Also in attendance was Lambton – Kent—Middlesex MP and Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Lianne Rood, Kneehill County Reeve Jerry Wittstock, and Trochu Mayor Barry Kletke.

Kurek opened the meet and greet by stating that he believes that O’Toole is the hope for the future of Canada in a time of division and lack of hope. O’Toole, in turn, called Kurek a fighter with a big heart for his riding. Describing himself, O’Toole stated he is a husband and father first, a volunteer, a lawyer, and a military vet.

O’Toole noted that it was important for him to speak to Albertans directly, at a time when Canada is at a crossroads. He expressed his frustration that the current government is going into debt, with pipelines being cancelled, and with the country growing in division and losing respect on the world’s stage. O’Toole blamed the Liberal government for all these things, saying that the country’s best days are ahead if Justin Trudeau is no longer Prime Minister.

First on his government’s to-do list, says O’Toole, would be to create an equalization rebate where Alberta is returned what was taken from them; that Alberta’s success is Canada’s success and prosperity. He was glad to launch his campaign in Alberta.

As well, O’Toole stressed the importance of unity, of adding to the Nation’s story – by sharing the stories of people like Tommy Prince, a decorated Indigenous war veteran – rather than tearing down statues. As well, O’Toole expressed his desire to work with anyone who wants to build up the country, and to promote Canadian resources so that Canada leads on the world stage.

After sharing about his vision for the country, O’Toole had time for four questions. The first was a two-part question about O’Toole’s stance on the carbon tax, and his plan to utilize Leslyn Lewis who ran against O’Toole in the Conservative Party Leadership Election. O’Toole is a firm believer in scrapping the carbon tax to let the provinces take the lead on the environment; to reduce emissions but to get people working. He also noted that Leslyn Lewis was the first candidate under his leadership, running as a Conservative MP in Ontario. Lewis is a valued member of his Conservative party.

Secondly, O’Toole was asked how he would manage or sway the 905 region which notoriously “elects” Prime Ministers due to their dense population. O’Toole answered noting that Trudeau is the most corrupt Prime Minister in Canada’s history, to the applause of those gathered. O’Toole introduced the Conservatives’ five-point plan to win the election and unite the country. The plan’s five pillars are to 1) secure jobs lost during the pandemic, 2) secure accountability through anti-corruption law, 3) secure mental health through their Canada Mental Health Action Plan, 4) secure the Country by stockpiling essential products and gaining the capacity to manufacture vaccines in Canada, and 5) securing the economy by balancing the budget over the coming decade.

A gentleman at the back of the crowd stood up to say that Albertans are tired of hearing politicians bashing Justin Trudeau. This statement brought out the applause of those gathered. Rather than spending so much time on Trudeau, he said, “what will you actually be doing?” O’Toole responded that while Albertans have already heard this message loud and clear, those in the 905 Toronto region need to hear it—“we have to make sure that the people who don’t know, know.” Rather than only oppose the Liberals, the Conservatives’ five-point plan proposes their vision and agenda for the country. O’Toole also stressed the importance of the Conservative party remaining united, that “united Conservatives can win.”

The last question was regarding how the Conservative party would manage media groups whose focus is on the Liberals. O’Toole, with a metaphor from his military background, joked that the party is fighting a five-front war with the Liberals, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Greens…and the CBC.

On a more serious note, O’Toole stated the need to be a grass-roots party whose message spreads not through mainstream media channels, but through small movements of the people. The most important way to win the election, says O’Toole, is to win the hearts and minds of the people, one vote at a time. “We won’t get endorsements or headlines [from the media], but when people see monuments defaced, churches burnt down, and statues torn down”, O’Toole says, they know in their hearts that a united country under a Conservative government is the best choice. “So let’s win this election!”

Those in attendance had the opportunity to personally greet O’Toole as he was ushered through the crowd and made his way to his next engagement. It is expected that a federal election will be called this summer, to take place in the fall.