Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole arrives with Conservative MP Candice Bergen to announce her as his deputy leader during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on September 2, 2020. Erin O’Toole will lay out a mission statement for the Conservative party today at the first official caucus meeting for the party since he won leadership last month. Hints of the tone and scope of his address to MPs and senators, who will gather largely in person in Ottawa, were laid out in a Labour Day message posted to social media on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Learn the lessons of history, don’t ‘cancel’ them, new Tory leader O’Toole says

O’Toole, who won the leadership last month, is pledging the Conservatives will be a unifying force for Canada

New Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says plaques, not protests, should take place in front of historical sites and monuments that reflect controversial moments in Canadian history.

O’Toole told his party’s MPs and senators gathered for their first meeting under his leadership that those who are tearing down the statues of the country’s founders are dooming Canada to forget the lessons of history.

The caucus was gathered in Ottawa Wednesday but scattered throughout the downtown. O’Toole himself was at the federal government’s Sir John A. Macdonald building for his remarks.

In recent weeks, statues of Canada’s first prime minister have been toppled or defaced in protests against systemic racism and Canada’s colonial history.

O’Toole noted that Sen. Murray Sinclair, who led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the residential school system into which many Indigenous children were forced, has suggested instead that plaques be placed alongside such monuments to provide a more balanced look at history.

O’Toole said he supports that approach. He contrasted Macdonald’s legacy with that of Louis Riel, the Metis leader Macdonald saw hanged for treason, but who was also considered by some a hero.

Their story serves as a warning for modern-day politicians, O’Toole suggested.

“Theirs is a story of what happens when Canada is divided,” he said. “When Western alienation takes root and people feel ignored by a distant government in Ottawa who does not try to understand the fears and desires of people thousands of kilometres away.”

With his party dominating much of Western Canada, O’Toole has taken up addressing feelings of alienation in the region as one of his priorities as leader.

He pledged Wednesday that his party will be a unifying force in the country and urged his MPs and senators to embrace a motto from his days in the Royal Canadian Air Force: through adversity to the stars.

“Through respect, professionalism, and the pursuit of excellence, we will show Canadians that we are a government in waiting,” he said.

“Together, we will form an engaged, ethical and compassionate Conservative government.”

O’Toole said he wants to show Canadians his party reflects them, and it was with that in mind that he has filled his front benches with a diverse roster of MPs.

“We are here to fight for you and I am asking that you take another look at the Conservative party,” he said.

While O’Toole has spent his first days as leader putting together his team for Parliament, also on the agenda is figuring out how the party will handle its response to the minority Liberal government’s upcoming speech from the throne.

It will lay out the Liberals’ post-COVID-19 recovery plan, and will be followed by a vote of confidence.

“We’re not itching for an election, we don’t think this is the right time for an election,” deputy party leader Candice Bergen said on her way into the caucus meeting Wednesday.

“We want to look at (the throne speech) and see if there’s something that we can support.”

READ MORE: Canadians reluctant to remove statues of historical figures now seen as racist: Poll

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 CanadaRacial injustice

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

Just Posted

Financial fallback plan in place for Mills Memorial replacement

That’s in case province rejects first submission

Local Skeena candidates for the Oct. 24 snap election

Current BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross will be running again, as will Nicole Halbauer for BC NDP

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Attorney General of Canada defends Kelowna Mountie involved in rough arrest

Tyler Russell filed a lawsuit against Const. Siggy Pietrzak in June of this year

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Refresh of Liberal government’s agenda comes amid new looming COVID-19 crisis

Lockdowns saw fed spending soar to historic levels in effort to offset pandemic’s blow to Canadians’ livelihoods

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read