O’Toole comes up short, but happy to hold Trudeau to another minority

It was O’Toole’s first campaign as Conservative leader since being chosen in August 2020

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They were all set for a big celebration.

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But Conservative party leader Erin O’Toole came up short trying to dislodge the Liberals with the most seats in Parliament, however he highlighted that Canadians have denied Justin Trudeau the majority he was seeking.

As he did during the campaign, O’Toole slammed Trudeau for sparking the 36-day campaign in the first place.

At the end of his first campaign as party leader since he was selected leader in August 2020, O’Toole said the Conservative party should be proud of the growth it showed in the election in appealing to more voters.

After the whirlwind and snap 36-day campaign, O’Toole ended his campaign hoping for growth in the critical 905 region around Toronto where he watched the results come in.

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole along with wife Rebecca and children Jack and Mollie, watch early election results in Oshawa September 20, 2021.
Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole along with wife Rebecca and children Jack and Mollie, watch early election results in Oshawa September 20, 2021. Photo by Blair Gable /REUTERS

In his home riding of Durham, O’Toole jumped out to an early lead which grew as the evening progressed.

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In Atlantic Canada, O’Toole’s Conservatives were hoping to build on the four seats his party won in 2019.

They appeared to do that this time.

His party built only marginally on the 10 Quebec seats it won two years ago.

The Conservatives pressed to deepen support in Quebec – highlighting throughout the campaign what it called a “contract with Quebec” – promising to work closely with the provincial government and not infringe into its jurisdiction.

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O’Toole also got a boost of support from Premier Francois Legault, who characterized the Liberals and the NDP as dangerous for Quebec’s autonomy.

With traditionally rock-solid support continuing in the prairies, O’Toole pushed for greater support in British Columbia where it continued to be a three-way fragmentation between Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP.

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One of the biggest challenges he faced was the issue of what he would do – if elected Prime Minister – with childcare pacts the Liberals signed with several provinces in the run-up to the election.

At the start of the election, polls showed the Liberals with healthy leads.

Within two weeks, O’Toole’s Conservatives had a slight lead or showed a race pollsters considered neck and neck.

“Mr. O’Toole, he was a huge underdog in this campaign and to be within a couple of points on election night is something that we’re all proud of,” said Jason Lietaer, a conservative observer with no official role with the campaign.

A turning-point seemed to come after the official debates when the Liberals unleashed a sharper attack on the issue of gun control and assault weapons and O’Toole’s plan for daycare.

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