OTTAWA — The pandemic has had an impact on every thread of society, and on Parliament Hill, it has forced politicians to review their leadership styles through a pandemic lens.
Erin O’Toole succeeded Andrew Scheer in becoming Conservative leader at the end of the summer. His first 100 days as leader, similar to the experience of the Green Party’s Annamie Paul, have exclusively been in the throes of a public health crisis.
Since becoming leader, O’Toole has been keenly telling Canadians that Conservatives are a government in waiting — and the new federal leader has been making overtures to increase the party’s tent to broaden its appeal among friends and historic rivals.
“He’s really working on the premise that people don’t pay attention or haven’t watched his voting record,” Unifor president Jerry Dias told “Follow-Up” host Althia Raj.
“It’s almost as if he’s saying to all of us, look, everything that I have said, everything that I have done for all these years was all nonsense. I’m a new man today and I’m looking at things differently.”
O’Toole started his first question period as Conservative leader in September with a query about reconciliation, but according to one Indigenous leader, that first impression was fleeting.
“I’m just going to be honest, I don’t follow Erin O’Toole,” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, adding that she’s been paying more attention to provincial politics.
To others, O’Toole’s reputation is sterling. Catherine Swift, former president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, previously worked with the Conservative leader and still occasionally dispenses advice to him.
O’Toole has managed “quite well” to date, but some issues will continue to be challenging, she said, referencing the party’s vocal and influential bloc of social conservatives.
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Watch: O’Toole begins first question period as Tory leader with Indigenous reconciliation.