Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds his first news conference as leader on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds his first news conference as leader on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

How would an O’Toole-led Conservative government handle the COVID-19 recovery?

How O’Toole responds to the Liberals’ plans will give a signal about where he intends to take his party’s policy

As the Liberal government toils away on a throne speech and post-pandemic recovery plan, newly elected Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is equally at work on his own response.

He’s not said whether the Conservatives will support the Liberals in the subsequent confidence vote, but even if they didn’t, it might not bring down the government.

The Bloc Quebecois says it will push for a fall election but even if the Conservatives agreed the two parties are still a few seats shy of the majority required to overtake the Liberal minority government.

Still, how O’Toole responds to the Liberals’ plans will give a strong signal about where he intends to take his party’s own policy for the post-pandemic period — and what he will pitch to voters in the next federal election.

In an interview with Durham Radio News on Wednesday, two days after he won the leadership race, O’Toole said he doesn’t think the Liberals have any intention of working with their opponents to stave off a fall election.

“I don’t want him to have a recovery plan that is more about ideological Liberal talking points than the well-being of Canadians,” O’Toole said.

That’s why he brought up the subject of Western alienation in his first call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he said.

“This throne speech he’s doing, if it adds to Western alienation, Canada is seeing risks we haven’t seen since the referendum of 1995,” he said.

“I will be very fair with him, but I will be direct. I think he is taking Canada in a very dangerous way.”

READ MORE: ‘I don’t drop the ball’: O’Toole promises to fight for West, human rights

Which way O’Toole would like to take Canada was, of course, a large part of the leadership race he won in the early hours of Aug. 24.

When the COVID-19 pandemic gripped Canada early in that the race, he and the other candidates were forced to reframe some of their platforms to reflect the disaster the novel coronavirus was causing to the economic and social fabric of the country.

So, his platform does give some clues about what O’Toole would seek to do when setting Canada on a path to recovery.

A couple of caveats for those seeking to read the tea leaves: one, a leadership race platform and campaign promises do not always transition to a general election plan.

Also, O’Toole’s platform was released prior to the Liberal government doing several things that he also suggested he would like to do, including winding down the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and expanding employment insurance.

Still, here’s a look at some specific ideas he did advance as part of a nine-point plan.

There are specific measures related to COVID-19 throughout the plan, including ensuring increased testing capacity, reliable domestic supplies of personal protective equipment and using agricultural research funding to get more food grown in Canadian greenhouses.

He also promised to call a royal commission into the pandemic within 100 days of assuming office to ensure lessons learned are applied going forward.

Other ideas include:

— a reduced EI premium for any increase in $50,000 insurable earnings over the previous tax year to promote hiring, an expansion of the emergency loans program for business, and amendments to bankruptcy laws to make it easier for companies to restructure.

— turning the existing deduction for child-care expenses into a refundable tax credit covering up to 75 per cent of those expenses, though how much a family could get back would depend on their income. He’d also double the limits under the existing deduction, and extend the boost the Liberals gave to the Canada Child Benefit until the end of 2021.

— he’d give broadband internet providers a tax credit to cover the cost of replacing Huawei components on 5G infrastructure; review the tax code to simplify and flatten taxes; a new law to ensure free trade across provincial borders.

— A National Strategic Pipelines Act to speed approval of pipelines considered in the national interest, which he defined as “lines providing access to global markets or domestic refinery capability, especially petrochemical refineries producing the materials essential to PPE production.” He also suggested he’d work with the U.S. and Mexico to strike a deal to end the importation of oil from outside the continent.

— If unemployment numbers remain high due to the pandemic, he is also suggesting a shift in immigration, suggesting that Canada cut back the number of workers it is seeking to admit and instead increase people coming to reunite with their families, particularly if they can help with child care or family support here.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of CanadaCoronavirus

Just Posted

Jordan Martin, manager of the Nelson and District Youth Centre which runs the parkade, in the new secure bike parking facility that will open in June. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Jordan Martin, manager of the Nelson and District Youth Centre which manages the parkade, in the new secure bike parking facility that will open in June. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Secure bike parking to open in Nelson parkade in June

Facility is free, will take 21 bikes, and has a charging station

L.V. Rogers student Nicolaj Bucher plays the trumpet as part of five-piece jazz ensemble LVJ5. Unable to perform live, the group recorded an album instead. Photo: Tyler Harper
Unable to perform live, L.V. Rogers jazz group instead records debut album

LVJ5 has released Lockdown Fever on streaming services

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue volunteers doused a hillside fire late Monday night, May 17. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks Fire/Rescue puts out hillside fire

No one was injured after a campfire got out of control below Columbia Drive

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue’s Dave Paulett hoses down a section of a wooden retaining wall which caught fire Monday, May 17. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Fire starts in Grand Forks backyard after by oily rags left in sun

Flames put out before reaching home on 800-block of 72nd Avenue

Most Read