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

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

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

Central Saanich will investigate ways in which the municipality along with funding partners Sidney and North Saanich can financially support the Panorama Recreation Centre. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich to spell out options for financially supporting Panorama Recreation Centre

Municipality looks for best use of COVID-19 restart grant worth some $3.5 million

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read