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BREAKING: 'I've never seen the country more divided after four years of Trudeau': O'Toole addresses media for first time as leader

"There was no national unity crisis when we were in government. There's a serious one now," says O'Toole.
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC

New Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole addressed media for the first time as Leader of the Conservative Party Tuesday morning, introducing himself to Canadians who may not know him.

This is the first glimpse of O'Toole for many, as delays during the Conservative leadership contest made it impossible for national newspapers to bare the winner's face.

O'Toole urged Canadians to not buy "Liberal spin" about him, saying that it was time to "put working Canadians first," criticizing Trudeau for playing politics during a pandemic and for helping insiders in the form of the WE Charity scandal.

"We need a leader who puts Canadians first, and will stand up for Canada and our interests in a challenging world where we've lost the respect of our friends and allies," said O'Toole.

O'Toole focused on national unity

O'Toole said that on his first day as leader, he spoke with the prime minister about his concerns regarding Western alienation and national unity issues.

"Because Western alienation is so significant a threat to Canadian unity, I don't believe we have even one day to spare," said O'Toole.

O'Toole pointed to the Liberal Party's coming throne speech, saying that if the Liberals "continue to leave out the ability for Canada's resource sector to bring Canadian resources to market," that there would be "more Western alienation" and less job opportunities for those in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

"We can do that while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but we have to be proud of what we produce here in Canada," said O'Toole.

"We've seen over the past four years the Liberal government force an 'Ottawa knows best' approach," O'Toole continued.

"I've never seen the country more divided after four years of Justin Trudeau. There was no national unity crisis when we were in government. There's a serious one now," said O'Toole.

On party unity

The Liberals have called on O'Toole to remove leadership candidate and MP Derek Sloan from caucus, and to not sign his nomination papers for the next election.

"In a leadership race, there's always some pressure and contrast of ideas. That's finished. I received a clear mandate, and I'm very excited to meet with my caucus and talk to all of them about uniting and going forward together, and I'll be doing that," said O'Toole.

"Derek and I had stark differences. We had some areas of overlap with our concern about the Communist Party of Chine, with some issues I didn't agree with some of the way he characterized those concerns," O'Toole continued.

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Roberto Wakerell-Cruz
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