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.

Just Posted

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m.
Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

A Sooke man died Tuesday afternoon after his car left the roadway in 7500-block of West Coast Road around 1:30 p.m. and hit a tree. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke man dies in Tuesday crash on West Coast Road

The man’s SUV left the roadway and struck a tree

Homicide investigators who asked not to be identified put up signs Wednesday, April 14, along the Nanaimo Parkway in the area where a body was found March 31. RCMP are asking for witnesses or dash cam footage as the suspicious death has now been ruled a homicide. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Suspicious death along Nanaimo Parkway now being investigated as a homicide

RCMP identify victim as Randell Charles Thomas, repeat call for any information related to the case

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo hospital experiencing another COVID-19 outbreak

Three patients tested positive for the virus in NRGH’s high-intensity rehab unit

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

Fish processing workers fillet farm-raised salmon in Surrey B.C. Photo courtesy BCSFA
Discovery Islands salmon farm removal impacts jobs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland: report

The City of Surrey is the hub of the salmon farming industry in Metro Vancouver

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read