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Main rival to Canada's Trudeau will resist efforts to oust him

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By Reuters
Main rival to Canada's Trudeau will resist efforts to oust him
Main rival to Canada's Trudeau will resist efforts to oust him   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA – The head of Canada’s official opposition Conservatives, under fire after losing an election to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year, says he will resist efforts by some of his party’s legislators to oust him.

Some unhappy Conservatives say leader Erin O’Toole pulled the right-leaning party too far into the political center during the campaign for the Sept. 20 election, in particular by backing the idea of a carbon tax to fight climate change.

O’Toole said the move was necessary to attract more moderate voters away from Trudeau’s Liberals. The gambit failed, leading to a third consecutive election loss for the Conservatives and a second straight minority government for the Liberals.

“I’m not going anywhere and I’m not turning back. Canada needs us to be united and serious!” O’Toole said in a series of posts on Twitter late on Monday.

Some 35 legislators have signed a letter calling for an early leadership review and the 119 Conservative members of parliament could vote on O’Toole’s fate as early as Wednesday.

“It’s time for a reckoning. To settle this in caucus. Right here. Right now. Once and for all,” O’Toole said, adding that if the party veered too far to the right the result would be “angry, negative, and extreme.”

Dissident Conservative lawmaker Garnett Genuis said it was “very sad to see Erin O’Toole launching more false personal attacks against members of his own team” and called on the leader to quit.

If the ructions become too deep, the party – created in 2003 by a merger of the moderate Progressive Conservatives and the more populist Canadian Alliance – could split into two.

Some prominent Conservatives have backed a protest by truckers that is jamming up the center of Ottawa, the nation’s capital. The protest, ostensibly against COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truck drivers, has turned into an anti-government anti-Trudeau gathering.