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Canadian News Nov 1, 2019 3:57 PM EST

EXCLUSIVE: Sources say O’Toole, MacKay exploring leadership bids—MacKay denies claims

Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay are preparing to potentially run for the leadership of the CPC, according to sources within the party.

EXCLUSIVE: Sources say O’Toole, MacKay exploring leadership bids—MacKay denies claims
Nico Johnson Montreal, QC

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay are looking at runs for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, according to a well-connected source within the party who’s close to prominent figures of the CPC.

“O’Toole is waiting for the dust to settle” to launch his leadership bid, “I assume he is waiting for the caucus meeting next week,” said the source to The Post Millennial.

O’Toole currently serves as the Official Opposition Critic of Foreign Affairs and ran for the Conservative Party leadership in 2017, finishing third behind Maxime Bernier and Andrew Scheer.

Multiple CPC sources spoke to The Post Millennial on the condition of confidentiality.

MacKay, a former minister in the Harper government, has also been establishing the foundations of a leadership bid according to the one source. “MacKay has had top organizers in Toronto for a meeting last week,” said the one source to The Post Millennial.

“Its categorically false,” said MacKay to The Post Millennial. “I met with former candidates that I supported during the campaign. I met with a group who were putting together a lecture series on [former Nova Scotia premier] Robert Stanfield.”

Earlier this week MacKay criticized Scheer for his stance on social conservatism, telling reporters that issues like abortion and immigration “hung round [Scheer’s] neck like a stinking albatross.” MacKay added that Scheer’s failure to defeat Trudeau “was like having an open net and missing the net.”

After MacKay had made these comments, he soon backtracked, stating on Twitter that his recent comments only had to do with addressing Conservative policy rather than the party’s leadership.

“We’ve been discussing what happened in the campaign and how we can improve our showing in the next election,” MacKay said.

“My open net comment was in response to what the Conservatives did to lose the election with all the ammunition that we had: SNC, blackface, India, all of the vulnerabilities of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, and how did we manage to lose?” continued MacKay. “I made probably what was a flippant remark, but nevertheless, it seemed to encapsulate that it was like shooting a breakaway on an open net and missing.”

“[My comments were aimed at] the collective, the party, the election. It was not aimed at Andrew Scheer. Of course, a lot of people want to interpret it that way and want to use it as a cudgel to beat Andrew Scheer over the head with. Andrew Scheer is the leader, I supported him during the campaign, I continue to support him,” MacKay said when asked if the buck stops at the leader for the election loss.

“I worked my tail off away from my job and family to do everything in my power to help him become the PM of Canada and I would do it again. So I take some umbrage when I get questioned as to my loyalty— you know, somebody said that ‘MacKay wasn’t on the ice’, well I was on the ice for 18 years, I campaigned in 50 ridings last campaign, and I helped put the party together, I have a vested interest in seeing a Conservative government.”

Mackay previously served as the leader of the Progressive Conservative party before it merged with the Canadian Alliance, before Harper took over the united party.

During the 2017 Conservative leadership election, O’Toole received similar support to Scheer within the party’s caucus.

Sources within the party say as many as 50 caucus members, including senators, are entertaining the idea of pushing for a leadership confidence vote at next Wednesday’s caucus meeting. At least 25 MPs—20 percent—need to sign a notice to trigger the confidence vote.

Scheer’s office didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

The Post Millennial could not reach O’Toole for comment.

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