By: Surjit Singh Flora
Did the Conservative Party pull a fast one on Canadians after electing its new leader?
In the wake of Erin O’Toole’s victory in the Conservative leadership race on Aug. 23, the question has been asked – did the party members make the right choice?
Malfunctioning ballet-counting machines and COVID-19 restrictions marred the leadership contest, but the drama is the same as it always was – Trudeau’s drama teaching background came in handy when he needed to play his cards on stage for willing audiences, while, the Conservatives played their cards behind the scenes to favour the candidate they wanted to crown as the leader of the party.
Peter MacKay was considered by some to be the early favourite, particularly in the northern regions of the country, but he is not all that well-liked within party circles. MacKay has always been someone from the progressive “Red Tory” side of the party, and thus ran afoul of the old Reformers and Canadian Alliance folks who now control the party apparatus.
Many party members thought MacKay was not the right person for the party’s top leadership position, pointing to his French command being worse than prior party leader Andrew Scheer.
Even among the supporters of -Red Tory, MacKay’s name is not always highly regarded. For many, he was the one who betrayed the Conservative Party and facilitated the terrible Reform Party takeover in 2003-even in the early 2000s he assured the party leader candidate David Orchard that he would not do anything. after that.
Since then, there have been doubts and serious trust issues about MacKay’s leadership qualifications. In other words, the old PC guards and new reform alliance crowd don’t particularly like him.
But the opinions above were merely party insiders’ thoughts about MacKay. MacKay came out on top in a new poll by Maru/BLUE outside media and the populace.
It found that of those who would have voted Conservatives if there had been a federal election, had MacKay been elected party leader, 55 percent chose him as their best choice.
MacKay is another public opinion poll. 51% of people choose him as the first choice.
Erin O’Toole is, in my view, another Scheer cut from the same cloth. A weak leader, in other words. It’s not clear if O’Toole has the framework or charisma to defeat Trudeau, and it is looking more likely that the latter will walk to his next majority government.
While serving as a foreign affairs commentator for the Conservative Party, O’Toole proposed a motion in the House of Commons, asking the House of Representatives to “value the contribution of Canadian Sikhs and Indian Canadians in our country’s life” and condemn all forms of terrorism. “Including the glory of Khalistani extremism and anyone who commits acts of violence in order to achieve the Khalistani state in India.
As the community got hold of the proposed motion, several Sikh organizations — including the Canadian Sikh Association, the World Sikh Organization of Canada, and the management of North America’s largest Gurdwara, Ontario Khalsa Durbar set up an aggressive night-long community movement against the Conservative motion .
They also demanded the CP leadership apologise for having “dared” to propose such an “outrageous motion” aimed at branding Sikhs as “terrorists” in a country where the world’s largest Sikh diaspora was settled “in a very peaceful way.”
Later on, O’Toole said the party chose not to go any further because “history continues to unfold.” The move is still on the paper.
As Khalistani Sikhs in Canada were overjoyed, other Indo-Canadians shook their head in bewilderment.
So, how does O’Toole get the Sikh, Indian and Punjabi community votes? Considering the fact, the so-called Sikh vote is securely parked with the Trudeau Liberals and Jagmeet Singh’s NDP, and this remains to be seen.
It is possible that, in the coming days, O’Toole will clear the air with the Sikh community.
It is estimated that Canada is the largest Sikh community in the world outside of India. In the 2011 census, more than 450,000 people across the country consciously followed their religious beliefs. The Sikh community has long been important to Canadian electoral politics.