06/11/2020 21:17 EDT | Updated 08/24/2020 12:14 EDT

Erin O’Toole’s ‘Take Back Canada’ Slogan Prompts Plenty Of Questions

The Tory leadership hopeful’s campaign slogan drew questions when it was released in June.

The Canadian Press
Conservative MP Erin O'Toole listens during the Conservative caucus retreat on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on January 24, 2020.

UPDATE: On Aug. 24, 2020, Erin O’Toole was elected as the leader of the Conservative party.

Erin O’Toole is planning on taking back Canada. As to whom he’s “taking it back” from, well, that’s a lot less clear. 

The Tory leadership hopeful released his official platform Wednesday, alongside a video featuring the slogan “Take Back Canada.” Following similar videos in recent months, the phrase is shaping up to be O’Toole’s official campaign slogan. 

“Join our fight, let’s take back Canada,” O’Toole says at the end of the most recent video.

But the latest video has many people wondering — whom exactly does he want to Canada back from?

It’s not the first time O’Toole’s used this language. Back in January when he announced his campaign, O’Toole released a video saying it was time to “take Canada back.”

But like the recent video, it’s unclear who — besides Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — he’s taking it back from. O’Toole’s campaign did not respond to HuffPost Canada’s request for comment on the slogan.

Taking Canada back suggests something’s been stolen. And one does not simply say “take Canada back” in a country built on colonization and forcibly seizing land from Indigenous people without raising a few eyebrows. 

Some Twitter users took the time to point out that Canada literally exists on stolen land, so the idea of “taking it back” seems odd.

Others pointed out more than a passing similarity to U.S. president Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.


Nostalgia-driven slogans like “Make America Great Again” and “Take Back Canada” carry loading meaning since the rise of Trump. 

“Make America Great Again,” doesn’t just appeal to people who hear it as racist coded language,” writer Marissa Melton wrote in 2017. “But also those who have felt a loss of status as other groups have become more empowered.”

Alongside former cabinet minister Peter Mackay, O’Toole is considered one of the front-runners for the Tory leadership. O’Toole’s platform released Wednesday is headlined by a push to end fossil fuel subsidies while doing away with the federal carbon tax.

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