A cowboy hat is left inside an empty ballroom at the Conservative national convention in Halifax on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Card-carrying federal Conservatives are heading into day two of a virtual convention aimed at getting the party ready for the next election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

A cowboy hat is left inside an empty ballroom at the Conservative national convention in Halifax on Saturday, August 25, 2018. Card-carrying federal Conservatives are heading into day two of a virtual convention aimed at getting the party ready for the next election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

O’Toole pledges Conservatives would restore one million jobs within a year if elected

The plan mimics a promise made by Trudeau last fall, Liberals pledged to create the same number of jobs

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole unveiled elements of his election pitch to Canadians Friday, seeking to ease his party’s jitters that they’re without an offering solid enough to woo voters away from the Trudeau Liberals.

His marquee speech to the party’s policy convention contained what he billed as a “recovery plan” that would within one year restore one million jobs lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, a Conservative government would tackle some of the other weaknesses the pandemic has exposed or created in society, O’Toole promised.

The Tories would increase mental health funding to the provinces and beef up domestic production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines, all while winding down existing stimulus programs and getting the country set on a course to eliminate the deficit within a decade.

“Together, we will give Justin Trudeau the fight of his life,” O’Toole said, according to a prepared text of his remarks.

“Because there is one thing the Liberals fear more than anything else: a Conservative party with the courage to grow, to be bold, and to change. And that’s the Conservative party that many Canadians are waiting for.”

O’Toole’s one million jobs plan mimics a similar promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last fall, when the Liberals pledged to create that same number of jobs.

The Liberals have since been rolling out program spending they say is designed to do it.

O’Toole suggested his plan would be spurred on by incentives for small business and by assisting the hardest-hit sectors of the economy, as well as the women and young people who have suffered the most.

O’Toole, who was elected leader last August on the strength of a promise to stay close to the party’s conservative roots, sought again Friday to reach out beyond that faction.

He reiterated his campaign victory speech that his party will be one where all Canadians can find a home, and especially union members disenchanted by the New Democrats.

The NDP scoffed at the idea, pointing out that the previous Conservative government, which included O’Toole, was no friend of the unions, having voted for bills that made it harder for people to join unions and protected corporations, and was opposed to raising minimum wages.

“When it comes to having the backs of working people, just like Justin Trudeau, Mr. O’Toole says a lot of nice things, but he has fought against the needs of working people every step of the way,” the party said in a statement.

O’Toole also made a direct play to potential voters in Quebec, reiterating that only the Conservative party can advance their interests in Ottawa, not the Bloc Québécois.

It’s also time for the party to get serious on climate change, O’Toole said.

“We have now fought and lost two elections against a carbon tax because voters did not think we were serious about addressing climate change,” he said.

“And I will not allow 338 candidates to defend against the lie from the Liberals that we are a party of climate change deniers.”

With most research saying some element of carbon pricing is essential to help Canada hit its emissions-reductions targets — without spending a small fortune to do it — there have been questions about how or whether the Conservatives would stick by their promise to axe it.

On Friday, O’Toole reiterated his party would scrap part of it, but not the whole thing.

“We will scrap Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax on working Canadians,” he said.

What will replace it is in the works. Party members did debate several resolutions Friday on the issue, including one that would enshrine the fact their party believes that climate change is real.

The Liberals suggested not much will change for the Tories.

“As the Conservative convention debated whether climate change is real, Mr. O’Toole himself confirmed in his speech that he’ll do nothing and continues to oppose putting a price on pollution,” said MP Pam Damoff in a statement.

“While Mr. O’Toole has no plan to invest in the middle class and wants to ’take Canada back,’ Liberals are focused on helping Canadians through this global pandemic and doing everything it takes to keep Canadians safe, healthy, and supported.”

The convention gathering is held roughly every two years, meaning the next one is likely to come well after the next election.

If O’Toole fails to win a majority government, he’d face a leadership review by the membership, which could end up launching a race to replace him.

On Friday, the party made a major change to how that contest would run.

Previously, all 338 ridings in the country were allocated 100 points, and how many points a leadership candidate receives is based on what percentage share of the overall vote they received in the riding.

But that’s been tweaked in favour of a system that will see each riding allocated 100 points or one point per vote cast, whichever is less. So, if there are only 40 votes cast from a riding, there would only be 40 points up for grabs.

MP Garnett Genuis, who had proposed the change, said ridings with small memberships can’t be allowed to have an outsized influence on the race.

The goal of the change, he said, was to ensure leadership candidates get out and hustle to grow the party.

The point system was an issue of contention when the Conservative party was formed in a merger of the Progressive Conservatives and Canadian Alliance, and has been fought over at nearly every convention.

It was implemented instead of a one-member, one-vote approach as a way to ensure leadership candidates didn’t just focus on areas with strong membership numbers but got support across the country.

Leading the charge on the points approach was the leader of the PC party at the time, Peter MacKay.

He ran against O’Toole last year and lost.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

These two city-owned houses on Railway Avenue in the Railtown district will be sold. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
City of Nelson will sell two derelict houses in Railtown

Purchasers will be responsible for demolition and slope stability issues

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
A grant from the province will fund the installation of lighting and electrical in the stage at Cottonwood Park and the construction of a washroom. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
City of Nelson receives grant for washroom and electrical at Cottonwood Falls Park stage

Grant will also fund concession stand and parking improvements

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

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

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

Most Read