The Conservative leader is playing for survival at this very moment, as a petition is launched to question his leadership. While there is always a toll after a loss, the only question Conservative strategists will ask about his future is whether he will be able to win the next election. Unfortunately for him, that seems unlikely.
It is inevitable, the question of the leader always resurfaces after an electoral defeat. Even if Erin O’Toole has announced his intention to stay in place and that he already has some support, the dissension is already present and the Conservative leader will have no other choice but to end it quickly if he intends to keep his post.
O’Toole does have a few positive things to put on his record: as with Andrew Scheer before him, his party came first in national voting intentions and the party even made gains in New Brunswick (+1), Nova Scotia (+2) and Ontario (+1) in addition to making a breakthrough in Newfoundland with a first MP.
However, the good news ends there. The refocusing strategy that O’Toole has imposed on the party is already showing its limits. The centrist leader from Ontario does little better than his pro-life predecessor from the West …
This refocusing is not without consequences either and it will not be able to go further without undermining the cohesion of the political formation. Each vote scratched in the center now risks being lost on the right, while several die-hards have already passed to the People’s Party, and its relative good score in the last elections now rules out its demise in the near future.
Although this has little effect in the western provinces, where the Conservatives win by more than comfortable margins, the defection of the inflexible is potentially dramatic in tight ridings where the Conservative party must make gains. if she hopes to reform the government. The ideological elastic band is already too tight and risks breaking.
In his defense, it is true that the Conservative leader only had a year to make himself known to the general public and that the health debacle in Alberta, led by Conservative Premier Jason Kenney, less than a week before Election Day couldn’t come at a worse time.
However, his liberal opponent also had his share of problems: elections that nobody wanted and which oozed opportunism, the abysmal deficits of the last two budgets, the delivery hiccups at the start of the vaccination campaign or the largesse of the PCU. / PCRE… Ammunition was plentiful to attack.
Despite the fact that the current Prime Minister was Justin trudeau and that he now has a record of six years to defend, it was Erin O’Toole who was on the defensive. Unable to impose his themes, his rhythm, he walked on eggshells throughout the campaign for fear of making mistakes.
During the debates, he could well be forgiven for his lack of combativeness in clashes that took place in a language he did not master well, but O’Toole displayed the same passivity during the debate in English. In short, the Conservative leader does not seem to have the charisma or the niac necessary to win.
Elections are won with ideas, of course, but also with emotion, and conservative strategists will have to take note of this. Stephan Harper succeeded against liberal opponents just as dull as himself (Martin, Dion, Ignatieff), but he bowed to a Justin Trudeau capable of arousing emotion.
Small consolation for O’Toole: Finding a combative, dynamic replacement capable of winning over voters from coast to coast seems like a daunting task for the Conservatives, with few potential candidates able to tick all the boxes.