Opinion | What doesn’t Erin O’Toole tell us? Pretty, actually

Monday’s elections may focus on the question of trust. Who do you trust to help Canada overcome the pandemic? Who do you trust to drive economic growth? Who do you trust to make your life more affordable? Or to tackle climate change? Or improve the autonomy of Quebec? Each of the major parties has a desired voting question based on the trust issue. For some, the question will be, who do you distrust?

Liberals ask you to trust Justin Trudeau’s ambition, for example in childcare and climate change. The NDP asks you not to trust Trudeau on those same things, pointing out broken promises and missed goals.

Conservatives are also asking him not to trust Trudeau and to punish him for breaking a promise by calling a $ 600 million pandemic election.

“This election is a choice about the future of Canada,” Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said this week, “[and] also an option on trust. On the character and qualities that we want to reward in Canadian society ”.

O’Toole asks you to trust him. But it also asks you to read between the lines.

For weeks now, the Conservative leader has refused to answer questions, or changed position when pressured, about his policies, about his values.

When asked if he believes systemic racism exists in Canada and Quebec, he did not respond. Instead, he told Star Canada that he must have zero tolerance for racism.

When asked if his plans to reform the equalization to restore “justice” to Alberta would mean less money for Quebec and the maritime provinces, O’Toole told the Star “that’s a good question” but did not provide a clear answer. He said the provinces had asked for the formula to be fixed and Trudeau did not act.

Asked how he would ensure that a majority Conservative government did not reopen the abortion issue, when two-thirds of the Conservative group voted to reopen the issue this spring despite O’Toole’s personal opposition, the Conservative leader told the Star that there would be no erosion of women’s rights, including abortion. ”Throughout this campaign, O’Toole has declined to say how he will ensure that his secondary MPs do not introduce anti-abortion bills, given that says it would allow free votes on matters of conscience.

O’Toole declined to say during the TVA French debate whether he was for or against more healthcare services in the private sector. But in subsequent interviews, he said that he favors more “innovation” by the provinces to improve results. “The more options Canadians have in health care, the better,” he said. He has also signaled that he plans to spend an additional $ 60 billion on healthcare over the next 10 years. (The fiscal cost of the Conservatives, however, reveals that over the next five years this amount is only $ 3.6 billion.)

It wasn’t until the fiscal cost was also released that the public learned that O’Toole would not uphold the $ 6 billion five-year child care deal signed between Quebec and Ottawa, a question that was repeatedly asked in the campaign route. Now, he suggests that he could keep it.

Perhaps most notable of all, is O’Toole’s response to gun control. During the TVA debate, O’Toole told the audience that it was not true that he was going to remove the liberals’ ban on so-called “assault-style” firearms, despite a clear promise on p. 90 from your platform. He said the Conservatives would uphold the ban on assault weapons. O’Toole later clarified that he wanted to say that the Conservatives would not change an assault weapons ban that has been in effect since 1977. Days later, the Conservatives changed their position, saying they would keep the ban on the Liberals until a classification review of firearms and amend their platform. to say. O’Toole has declined to say whether the ban will continue after the review.

There are more examples. From refusing to say how many of his candidates are vaccinated, and instructing candidates not to disclose their status, to reversing his promise to eliminate Trudeau’s carbon tax. (He now says the provinces can stick with their or Trudeau’s plans instead of adopting the conservative low-carbon savings account complicated program.)

During the campaign, O’Toole talks about the “need to be transparent with Canadians.”

“I’ve been honest with people because in some areas I know we have to regain some confidence,” he told the Star’s editorial board on Tuesday.

Trust requires transparency. And in that, O’Toole has a lot of work to do.

Althia Raj is a national policy columnist for the Star in Ottawa. Follow her on Twitter: @althiaraj


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