Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole arrives with Conservative MP Candice Bergen to announce her as his deputy leader during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on September 2, 2020. Erin O’Toole will lay out a mission statement for the Conservative party today at the first official caucus meeting for the party since he won leadership last month. Hints of the tone and scope of his address to MPs and senators, who will gather largely in person in Ottawa, were laid out in a Labour Day message posted to social media on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Learn the lessons of history, don’t ‘cancel’ them, new Tory leader O’Toole says

O’Toole, who won the leadership last month, is pledging the Conservatives will be a unifying force for Canada

New Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says plaques, not protests, should take place in front of historical sites and monuments that reflect controversial moments in Canadian history.

O’Toole told his party’s MPs and senators gathered for their first meeting under his leadership that those who are tearing down the statues of the country’s founders are dooming Canada to forget the lessons of history.

The caucus was gathered in Ottawa Wednesday but scattered throughout the downtown. O’Toole himself was at the federal government’s Sir John A. Macdonald building for his remarks.

In recent weeks, statues of Canada’s first prime minister have been toppled or defaced in protests against systemic racism and Canada’s colonial history.

O’Toole noted that Sen. Murray Sinclair, who led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the residential school system into which many Indigenous children were forced, has suggested instead that plaques be placed alongside such monuments to provide a more balanced look at history.

O’Toole said he supports that approach. He contrasted Macdonald’s legacy with that of Louis Riel, the Metis leader Macdonald saw hanged for treason, but who was also considered by some a hero.

Their story serves as a warning for modern-day politicians, O’Toole suggested.

“Theirs is a story of what happens when Canada is divided,” he said. “When Western alienation takes root and people feel ignored by a distant government in Ottawa who does not try to understand the fears and desires of people thousands of kilometres away.”

With his party dominating much of Western Canada, O’Toole has taken up addressing feelings of alienation in the region as one of his priorities as leader.

He pledged Wednesday that his party will be a unifying force in the country and urged his MPs and senators to embrace a motto from his days in the Royal Canadian Air Force: through adversity to the stars.

“Through respect, professionalism, and the pursuit of excellence, we will show Canadians that we are a government in waiting,” he said.

“Together, we will form an engaged, ethical and compassionate Conservative government.”

O’Toole said he wants to show Canadians his party reflects them, and it was with that in mind that he has filled his front benches with a diverse roster of MPs.

“We are here to fight for you and I am asking that you take another look at the Conservative party,” he said.

While O’Toole has spent his first days as leader putting together his team for Parliament, also on the agenda is figuring out how the party will handle its response to the minority Liberal government’s upcoming speech from the throne.

It will lay out the Liberals’ post-COVID-19 recovery plan, and will be followed by a vote of confidence.

“We’re not itching for an election, we don’t think this is the right time for an election,” deputy party leader Candice Bergen said on her way into the caucus meeting Wednesday.

“We want to look at (the throne speech) and see if there’s something that we can support.”

READ MORE: Canadians reluctant to remove statues of historical figures now seen as racist: Poll

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of CanadaRacial injustice

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Man who stole truck and canoe in View Royal believed he was fleeing zombies, court finds

Judge finds man not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder for 2019 thefts

Electrical issue causes heavy smoke to billow from Oak Bay Avenue coffee shop

Victoria and Oak Bay fire crews responded to smoke at Victoria café

Former Victoria Royals manager celebrates Stanley Cup win

Grant Armstrong is now an amateur scout with Tampa Bay Lightning

Horgan frustrated as Transport Canada mandate for BC Ferry riders returns

Transport Canada reinstates rule that bans passengers from lower decks

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. VOTES 2020: Few solutions offered for ‘out of control’ camping

B.C. Liberals, NDP spend millions as problem keeps growing

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

Parksville pedestrian airlifted to hospital in Vancouver after nighttime collision

Police report man’s injuries were ‘significant’ but not life-threatening

Most Read