O’Toole’s lackluster convention paves the way for federal budget showdown

Ottawa – April 6, 2021 – Political conventions are organized to fire-up party members, especially when a new leader is in charge. But for Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole, things did not go as planned.

When the conservatives lost the last election, many pinned it on their lack of a real plan to tackle climate change and their opposition to the carbon tax. O’Toole has spoken many times about the need for the party to face the reality of climate change but at the recent convention party delegates voted down a resolution that recognized the threat of climate change, instead calling on big polluters to be self-accountable for their GHG emissions.

News of the defeated resolutions had Liberal insiders relishing the opportunity to label the conservative movement as climate change deniers. It also means calls for an election are imminent.

There were other resolutions both defeated and passed that could cause problems for the conservatives. The convention passed a resolution to convert public sector pensions to the equivalent of private sector pensions which basically means converting defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans – which are inferior; and a resolution on retirement savings that removes any commitment to increasing the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement.

O’Toole faces other challenges as well. To win the party leadership he had to gain the support of social conservatives on the second ballot and though claiming to be pro- choice this empowered the anti-abortion zealots in his party. For positions on the party’s National Council nearly 40% of those elected were endorsed by anti-abortion groups.

The convention did not provide O’Toole with a bump in popularity, instead it exposed several land mines he must carefully navigate. Indeed, the only ones smiling post-conservative convention were those in the Liberal party. Justin Trudeau has been wanting an election since last fall and the conservative convention has provided him with various campaign gifts.

Unfortunately, the last thing the country needs right now is an election. With a third wave of COVID taking hold and just a small percentage of Canadians having been vaccinated there are too many unanswered questions about how Elections Canada would even conduct voting.

The more prudent option remains in a minority government that works together to address the many issues everyday Canadians are facing. Unfortunately, Justin Trudeau is more likely to continue playing political games to get his much-desired attempt at another majority. With the April 19th budget fast approaching it is likely to be his launching pad to an election campaign no one needs.