Conservative Senator Salma Ataullahjan comforts delegate Uruzurum Heer during a policy meeting at the Conservative Party of Canada convention in Vancouver, May 27, 2016. (Photo: Jonathan Hayward/CP)"For the first time I felt like I didn't belong here and this was my country," she said, her voice breaking. Her passionate statement was greeted with applause and she received hugs from some in the crowd but it left party executive director Dustin Van Vugt stumbling for words. He noted the party lost nearly all its seats in the Greater Toronto Area but did pick up one with South Asian MP Bob Saroya. He said the party needs to expand its outreach. "Is there one answer I can give today? There's no answer I can give today other than we know we have to win and to win we need a very large tent that includes everybody."
Two issues — a ban on wearing face veils during citizenship ceremonies and a proposal for a tip line on "barbaric cultural practices" — were controversial policies put forward by the Tories during the campaign. Former campaign manager Jenni Byrne — who sat through the entire campaign review session as delegate after delegate criticized strategies she would have helped craft — wouldn't explicitly address the choice to hammer those two issues so hard and often during the 11 week campaign. She said the niqab came up because of a court decision during the election that overturned the Tories' policy banning them. She said the Tories couldn't have predicted the NDP vote would collapse during the campaign, which was a major factor that reduced to the Tories to opposition status. But one of the reasons it did was the niqab — the ban was popular in Quebec and NDP leader Tom Mulcair's decision to come out against it was widely seen as costing that party votes and allowing the Liberals to surge. "It's always good to get feedback from the field in terms of what worked and what didn't work," Byrne said as she left the convention.
"For the first time I felt like I didn't belong here and this was my country."
Party conducted review of election loss
The Conservative party spent $42 million on the campaign, $12 million less than the $54 million cap allowed by Elections Canada. "I have heard no one suggest that we lost the election because we did not spend enough money," Conservative Fund chairman Irving Gerstein told delegates earlier Friday. The party went into the campaign with $15 million in the bank, the result of saving three years of the per-vote subsidies that the Tories eliminated while in power. They topped that up with a $28 million loan to finance the historic 11-week campaign but that debt has now been paid off using a combination of tax and Elections Canada rebates and party fundraising, Gerstein said.
"I have heard no one suggest that we lost the election because we did not spend enough money."
Also on HuffPost