A small number of MPs will be back in Ottawa today, a day after provincial governments in Ontario and Quebec issued orders calling for the closure of non-essential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The MPs are returning to vote on measures to spend billions on aid for families and businesses struggling to cope as the coronavirus outbreak hammers the economy.
Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in people in every province and territory except Nunavut. Ontario and Quebec, along with B.C., have reported the most cases to date.
The message from cities and provinces — to stay home, keep a safe distance from others and avoid groups — is also coming straight from the prime minister.
On Monday, Justin Trudeau urged people to “go home and stay home.”
“This is what we all need to be doing, and we’re going to make sure this happens, whether by educating people more on the risks, or by enforcing the rules, if that’s needed,” Trudeau said at his daily briefing. “Nothing that could help is off the table.”
The federal government has so far declined to invoke the Emergencies Act, which gives it temporary authority to do things like restrict travel and impose fines if people don’t comply with rules issued under the act. But at least one premier, New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs, has said a federal emergency declaration would allow for a more unified national response.
Not long after Trudeau spoke on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that all non-essential stores and businesses in Canada’s most populous province would be ordered to close for 14 days.
“This decision was not made lightly, and the gravity of this order does not escape me,” Ford said.
Quebec made a similar move, opting to halt all but essential services. The province is effectively “on hold” until April 13, Premier François Legault said as he announced the latest measures.
The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 382,000 people and killed over 16,500 worldwide. COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, results in mild or moderate symptoms in most people — but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 101,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
The pandemic has led to border restrictions and business closures — and now, it has led to the postponement of the 2020 Olympics.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday the International Olympic Committee president has agreed to delay the Summer Games amid growing concern about the coronavirus outbreak that has infected hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The announcement came a day after Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic committees announced that they would not be sending athletes to Tokyo this summer if the Games went ahead as planned.
WHO chief says pandemic is ‘accelerating’
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that the pandemic is “accelerating.”
“It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases. You can see how the virus is accelerating,” he said.
But he noted that people and governments aren’t “helpless bystanders” to the outbreak.
“We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”
He said defensive measures like social distancing are important, but urged an “attack” as well. Tedros urged governments to test every suspected case, isolate and care for every confirmed case and find and quarantine close contacts of COVID-19 patients.
WATCH | Social distancing Q&A: Are you doing it right?
The WHO chief also expressed concern about rising case numbers among health-care workers.
“Even if we do everything else right, if we don’t prioritize protecting health workers, many people will die because the health worker who could have saved their life is sick,” he said.
On Tuesday, after more than a week in which China said the vast majority of new virus cases were imported from abroad, authorities said the restrictions in Hubei would end. People cleared by health authorities would be able to leave the province after midnight. The city of Wuhan itself will remain locked down until April 8.
Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada’s provinces and territories, the U.S. and around the world.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
In British Columbia, the premier announced a $5 billion coronavirus relief plan. The plan, which Finance Minister Carole James described as a “first step, but a critical step” includes funding for people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the coronavirus fallout, as well as for businesses. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta’s top public health official says her team is closely tracking community transmission, saying “that is our biggest concern.” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said there are existing measures to deal with returning travellers, a message Premier Jason Kenney reiterated Monday when he urged people returning home from the U.S. to take self-isolation seriously, saying it isn’t a “vague general hint or suggestion.” Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer says he’s pleased to see social distancing happening, which could help flatten the curve. Dr. Saqib Shahab also noted that the province is “at a critical point now because most of the cases are still either travel or related to [past] large events.” Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
In Manitoba, officials say people arriving in the province should self-isolate for 14 days — even if their travel was inside Canada. There are some exceptions, including truckers and people who live on one side of a provincial border and work on the other. But chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Monday: “I want to make it clear that this is not just a suggestion.” Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is ordering all non-essential businesses to close, but says people will still be able to buy food, medicine and other essentials. “Every Ontarian must do their part. If you can, please stay home, only leave if necessary,” the premier said. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
Quebec moved to close non-essential businesses amid growing concern about community transmission of COVID-19, Premier François Legault said Monday, noting that people would still be able to get essential supplies. “It’s time also for the government to act in a decisive manner. We must put Quebec on pause until Easter.” Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick’s premier wants to see a national approach to stopping COVID-19. Premier Blaine Higgs said he’s in favour of the prime minister invoking the Emergencies Act, saying it would unify the approach to handling the growing outbreak. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Children in Nova Scotia likely won’t be back in class in early April, the province’s top public health official says. “I just need to signal to people that this is in all likelihood not just a two-week period. It’s longer than that,” Dr. Robert Strang said Monday. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s government is ordering more businesses closed as the province sees more cases of COVID-19. “We are actively considering further actions to reduce our risk,” chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
Nunavut is closing its border to all but returning residents and critical workers in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Northwest Territories government is closing a major highway and Yukon is dealing with its first reported cases of COVID-19 after a couple returned from the U.S. Read more about what’s happening in the North.
As of Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. ET, Canada had nearly 2,100 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. Here’s a look at the number of cases — including deaths and recoveries — by province.
British Columbia: 472 confirmed cases, including 100 resolved and 13 deaths.
Ontario: 504 confirmed cases, including eight resolved and six deaths.
Alberta: 301 confirmed cases, including three resolved and one death.
Quebec: 628 confirmed cases, including one resolved and four deaths.
Saskatchewan: 66 confirmed and presumptive cases.
Manitoba: 20 confirmed and presumptive cases.
New Brunswick: 17 confirmed and presumptive cases.
Nova Scotia: 41 confirmed and presumptive cases.
Prince Edward Island: Three cases the province lists as positive.
Newfoundland and Labrador: 24 confirmed and presumptive cases.
Northwest Territories: One confirmed case.
Yukon: Two confirmed cases.
Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed cases.
Presumptive cases are individuals who have tested positive, but still await confirmation with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. Not all provinces are listing figures on those who have recovered. The recent COVID-19 related death of a Canadian in Japan is not currently included in the province-by-province tally of cases.
Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.
WATCH | Trump wants to ease COVID-19 restrictions, get Americans back to work:
From The Associated Press, updated at 5:30 a.m. ET
Top congressional and White House officials negotiating the $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package say they expect to reach a deal sometime Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer say they spoke by phone with President Donald Trump as they met late into the night at the Capitol.
While the sides have resolved many issues in the sweeping package, some disagreements remain. Washington has been straining to respond to the worsening coronavirus outbreak, and tempers in Congress have flared at times.
Meantime, Trump is musing openly about letting a 15-day shutdown expire next Monday.
The scramble to marshal public health and political resources intensified in New York, where a statewide lockdown took effect Monday amid worries the city of 8.4 million is becoming one of the world’s biggest hot spots. More than 12,000 people have tested positive in the city and almost 100 have died.
The mayor warned that the city’s hospitals are just 10 days away from shortages in basic supplies, while the state’s governor announced plans to convert a New York City convention centre into a hospital.
“This is going to get much worse before it gets better,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Here’s what’s happening in Europe
WATCH | Russia’s coronavirus count under scrutiny:
From The Associated Press, updated at 6 a.m. ET
Confusion rippled through Britain on the first morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a three-week halt to all non-essential activity to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. The government has told most stores to close, banned gatherings of three or more people and said everyone apart from essential workers should leave home only to buy food and medicines or to exercise.
But photos showed crowded trains on some London subway lines Tuesday, amid confusion about who is still allowed to go to work. London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “I cannot say this more strongly: we must stop all non-essential use of public transport now. Employers: please support your staff to work from home unless it’s absolutely necessary. Ignoring these rules means more lives lost.” The government says police will have powers to break up illegal gatherings and fine people who flout the rules. But some expressed doubts about whether the lockdown could be enforced.
In Italy, declines in both new cases and deaths for a second consecutive day provided a faint glimmer of hope. Officials said Monday that the virus had claimed just over 600 more lives, down from 793 two days earlier. The outbreak has killed more than 6,000 Italians, the highest death toll of any country, and pushed the health system to the breaking point there and in Spain.
In Spain, Madrid’s ice-skating rink is now being used as a makeshift morgue given the rapid increase in deaths in the Spanish capital owing to the COVID-19 outbreak. Security forces guarded the outside of the Palacio de Hielo complex on Madrid’s northeastern outskirts Tuesday as funeral service vans arrived and entered the building’s underground car park. Madrid is one of the hardest hit of Spain’s 17 regions with some 1,300 deaths, approximately half the national total. Spain announced 6,584 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, bringing the overall total to 39,673. The number of deaths also jumped by a record number of 514 to 2,696.
Here’s a look at what’s happening elsewhere, including hard-hit areas like Iran and South Korea
WATCH | Can Canada learn from what Taiwan is doing to beat back COVID-19?
From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 7 a.m. ET
Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak increased by 122 in the past 24 hours to 1,934, Health Ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said on Tuesday. The total number of people diagnosed with COVID-19
increased by 1,762 in the past 24 hours, to 24,811, he added on state TV. There are over 31,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the Mideast, the vast majority in the hard-hit nation of Iran.
South Korea says 19 of 1,444 passengers who arrived from Europe on Sunday were found to have the coronavirus, the first cases detected after authorities began testing all people coming from the continent. South Korean Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho also said Tuesday that 101 of some 1,200 passengers who arrived from Europe on Monday have exhibited fever or respiratory symptoms. South Korea says it will fully fund the treatment for virus carriers regardless of their nationality. Even if they test negative, South Korean nationals arriving from Europe or foreigners who enter the country from Europe on long-term stay visas are required to quarantine themselves at home for two weeks.
South Africa’s coronavirus cases leapt again to 554 on Tuesday, the most of any country in Africa, as its 57 million people rushed to prepare for a lockdown that begins Thursday. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night announced the 21-day lockdown. Rwanda and Tunisia earlier announced lockdowns. Workers in South Africa will be required to stay home except for those in essential services including health care and security, as well as the production and distribution of food, utilities and medical products. Across Africa, 43 of its 54 countries now have cases, with the total at 1,788. Thirteen countries have reported 58 deaths. South Africa has not recorded one.
Egypt will impose a two-week, nightly curfew in the Arab world’s most-populous country in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, its prime minister announced Tuesday as the International Monetary Fund warned a lack of supplies could affect the Mideast’s poorest nations. Egypt has 366 confirmed cases and 21 fatalities, including two senior military officers. The IMF, which traditionally has urged governments to implement greater austerity measures, now urges Mideast governments to offer temporary tax relief and cash transfers. It also warned a lack of medical supplies could hurt Iraq, Sudan and Yemen if it leads to a surge in prices.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Tuesday – CBC.ca
The European Commission said on Tuesday it would make sense for the United States to allow travel by people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot in Europe.
On Monday the White House said it would lift restrictions that bar European Union citizens from travelling to the United States starting in November. It is not clear which vaccines will be accepted by U.S. authorities.
“We believe the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe,” a spokesperson for the EU Commission told a news conference.
“From our point of view, obviously it would make sense for people who have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca to be able to travel.”
The spokesperson noted that this is a decision for U.S. authorities.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was authorized by Health Canada for use in people aged 18 and up in late February. As of Sept. 16, health officials had distributed more than three million doses of the vaccine to the provinces, according to a tracking list published by the federal government.
In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government would work with other countries to ensure Canadians who received the AstraZeneca vaccine would not be prevented from travelling internationally.
In the U.S., there are three COVID-19 vaccines that are either fully authorized or approved for emergency use — the two-dose mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna and the single-dose product from Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).
India has been critical of the British government’s decision not to recognize coronavirus vaccine certificates issued by Indian authorities, calling it a “discriminatory policy” that will impact its citizens who want to travel to that country.
The new rules require Indians visiting the U.K. to quarantine themselves for 10 days and undergo COVID-19 tests even if they are fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccines made under licence in India.
The rules take effect next month. India’s Serum Institute, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine, has not applied for its approval by the European Union.
Most people in India have been vaccinated with the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine. Others have received COVAXIN, which is also not used in Britain.
-From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 1:45 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
Canada is extending restrictions on all direct commercial and private passenger flights from India until Sunday, Transport Canada said in a statement Tuesday.
Travellers eligible to enter Canada will be able to board direct flights from India once the restriction on direct flights expires, provided they have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test from the approved Genestrings Laboratory at the Delhi airport taken within 18 hours of the scheduled departure.
-From CBC News, last updated at 8:30 p.m. ET
Here’s a look at some of the COVID-19 developments from across the country:
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday evening, more than 229.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Vietnamese authorities are relaxing some pandemic restrictions in Hanoi starting Tuesday after two months of lockdown to contain a surge in coronavirus cases.
In Europe, senior politicians in Germany expressed shock over the weekend killing of a young gas station clerk who asked a customer to wear a face mask, and they warned Tuesday against the radicalization of people who oppose the country’s pandemic restrictions.
A 49-year-old German man was arrested in the fatal shooting of the clerk Saturday in the western town of Idar-Oberstein. The suspect is being held on suspicion of murder.
Authorities said the man told officers he acted “out of anger” after being refused service for not wearing a mask while trying to buy beer. “He further stated during interrogation that he rejected the measures against the coronavirus,” the Trier police department said in a statement.
In the Americas, COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans.
Back in December, when no vaccines were available, about 3,000 people were dying every day. Now, despite readily available vaccines, deaths per day have climbed 40 per cent over the past two weeks, from 1,387 to 1,947, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Argentina unveiled plans to ease pandemic restrictions, including loosening strict border controls, allowing more commercial activities and getting rid of the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors.
In the Middle East, the first world fair to be held in the Middle East, Expo 2020 Dubai, opens its doors to exhibitors from almost 200 countries on Oct. 1 after being delayed for a year by the pandemic.
In Africa, authorities in Burundi have decided to suspend all social events except on Saturdays and Sundays as concerns grow about a rising number of COVID-19 infections.
The country was one of the last in Africa to embrace vaccines after the administration of the late president was accused of taking the pandemic lightly. In a letter to governors and mayors, the chair of the committee in charge of fighting COVID-19 said the limits on gatherings come after authorities realized how such events can spread the virus.
The mayor of Burundi’s economic capital, Bujumbura, is threatening to fine anyone who doesn’t wear a mask or respect physical distancing. The mayor cites a worrying number of COVID-19 patients in the city.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8:50 p.m. ET
Elections Canada 'sorry' people didn't vote because of long lineups – CTV News
Many older voters, parents with young children and Canadians with disabilities didn’t vote on Monday because they couldn’t wait in long lineups at their voting sites. Elections Canada has apologized but said there was little else they could do given COVID-19 restrictions.
“I always vote and am incredibly disappointed I did not this time,” said Patricia Au, a voter in the Toronto riding of University—Rosedale. She was told two times on Monday she’d be waiting for two hours. “I forfeited my ballot this year.”
Farah Hassanali, a single mother from Ajax, Ont. with five-year-old twins, was similarly discouraged by how slow the line was moving at her voting site.
“I had to pick up my kids from school and daycare… and I wasn’t able to go back to vote because my kids are young and I couldn’t stand in line with them for hours,” she told CTVNews.ca In a phone interview.
“I did set out some time in my day to go and vote but my past experiences have never taken that long,” Hassanali said. And because a Liberal win was projected before many had even voted, she saw people who left the line because they felt their votes didn’t matter.
“I don’t think it was efficient and properly run.”
ELECTIONS CANADA ‘SORRY’ BUT HANDS WERE TIED
Upon hearing the stories of people ditching the lineups, Elections Canada media advisor Rejean Grenier said, “I feel for people who had to do that.”
But he stressed the agency didn’t have a choice in whether to run the election during the pandemic. This year, there were significantly fewer overall voting sites in many ridings across the country, due to COVID-19 restrictions which prevented many schools, churches, or other buildings from being eligible locations.
“We had all of the criteria that was placed on us where we had no choice about choosing certain sites,” Grenier said in a phone interview. He explained that despite ridings having fewer voting sites, there were more booths inside them, which meant the total number of voting booths overall was similar to past years.
He also noted that people who couldn’t or didn’t want to wait in line, could’ve mailed in their ballots, or submitted their ballots through advanced voting during the four assigned days earlier this month.
“We’re very sorry that people couldn’t or wouldn’t stay in line, but most people were patient and did,” Grenier said.
OLDER VOTERS, THOSE WITH DISABILITIES LEFT OUT
For many older voters and those with disabilities, it was less a matter of patience and more of physical limitations.
Roy Bagnato and his wife, in the Ontario’s York-Simcoe riding, told CTVNews.ca in an email that they’re in early 80s and couldn’t wait in the hot sun. Meanwhile seniors Gord Bulllied and his wife similarly couldn’t wait hours at their voting site in Peterborough county in southern Ontario.
“So for the first time in our life we did not vote,” Bulllied wrote to CTVNews.ca in an email.
Several other voters — such as Patricia Farmer from Keswick, Ont. who uses a wheelchair — said their physical disabilities made lineups difficult.
“Cars were lined up all the way down the main road. It was not moving and it would have taken hours before we could even park,” she wrote CTVNews.ca in an email, saying this was the case the two times she went.
“We have always instilled the importance of voting into our children and grandchildren no matter what, and we practiced what we preached. Well, this time none of us were offered the ability to vote.”
Whitby, Ont. resident Nikki Yannique Henderson has cerebral palsy and felt “very deflated” because she can’t stand for long periods of time.
“I think it super disappointing. We hear time and time again that people with disabilities matter, but this goes to show that we have a long way to go,” she told CTVNews.ca via text, noting that simply having the building being wheelchair accessible isn’t enough to make areas truly accessible.
“Ideally there should be a line for those who may have mobility challenges,” she said. “We need to continue to look at ways to make the experience fully accessible from the beginning.”
Her father, David MacKinnon — vice-chair of the Town of Whitby Accessibility Advisory Committee — wished that security and voting site volunteers had shown more leeway in expediting wait times for older Canadians and those with disabilities.
“I’m almost 70 years old. I’m not going to stand in line for that kind of time… One look at the lineup and we just kept driving,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. “It’s been a long, long time since I’ve not voted in an election.”
The Elections Canada spokesperson said in past elections, volunteers would often scan lines to allow older voters to skip the line. But this time around, the lines were too long and volunteers were instead focused on moving the lines along.
WHAT ABOUT ONLINE VOTING?
MacKinnon said more needs to be done for disabled Canadians, and this pandemic election was the year to do it.
“Persons with disabilities have a tough time voting, even with mail-in ballots. A web-based voting system is needed,” he said.
He said it there should be a “trusted voter” program which allows people to vote online if they’ve been screened thoroughly by the government.
The Elections Canada spokesperson Grenier cited evidence showing how online voting – as was seen in the 2018 municipal elections in Ontario — can be unfortunately prone to errors and irregularities. He said even if an infrastructure could be set up, it would require a change to the Elections Act before it’s used federally.
Although she was unable to vote, Hassanali said she has sympathy for Elections Canada for organizing an election during a pandemic, but given the COVID-19 restrictions were known so far in advance, she wishes there were more advance polling days or more time allowed to mail in their ballots.
“I feel like my voice wasn’t heard and I understand many people are in the same situation.”
The Canadian election is (mostly) over. Cue the party leadership speculation: experts – Globalnews.ca
For the major federal party leaders now though, experts say the question is poised to become: could they or should they have done better at the polls, and will the political knives now come out?
Prominent Conservative Lisa Raitt, a former federal cabinet minister, said she expects both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole will face questions from their caucuses, but what happens next is still uncertain.
“I think it’s too early to say, ‘knives out,’” she told Global News on Tuesday.
“I do believe that caucus has a right to understand from both of their leaders behind closed doors what happened, what’s the analysis and where do we go from here.”
What does the future of party leadership look like after election 2021?
After five weeks and $600-million, the pandemic election — the most expensive in Canadian history — has left the makeup of the House of Commons virtually identical to what it was when Trudeau chose to seek a dissolution on Aug. 15, and send the country to the polls.
That early lead quickly evaporated and Trudeau is once again set to lead a minority government that will see him forced by Canadians to negotiate and cooperate with the other parties in order to govern.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh now appears poised to play kingmaker, and said he plans to stay on as leader when questioned early Tuesday morning about whether he should be replaced. In comparison, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul’s second straight failure to win the Toronto Centre seat she was campaigning for is already prompting questions about her own future and ability to lead the party.
“I’ve never seen the party so unprepared for an election,” said former Green leader Elizabeth May, who was re-elected as the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, during an interview with Global News.
The two major party leaders are likely also facing questions in light of the election result.
Grace Skogstad, a professor of political science with the University of Toronto, described the outcome as “a disappointment for both the Liberal and Conservative leaders.”
“In terms of what it means for their leadership, there’s going to be a greater challenge to Erin O’Toole’s leadership than there is to Justin Trudeau’s. … It’s always easier to win an election, even if he’s only gained one seat.”
O’Toole gambled big by swinging the Conservative Party to the centre of the political spectrum, but was not able to oust Trudeau from the Prime Minister’s Office.
He told journalists on Tuesday afternoon he was “disappointed” with the result but planned to remain in the role and has already started the process to review what could have been done better.
“Next time we will,” he said of the frustration members feel at not winning.
“We’re closer in dozens upon dozens of ridings, but not close enough. I want to earn that trust with Canadians. That’s why we’re going to work tirelessly.”
His predecessor, Andrew Scheer, vowed to stay in the role as leader following the 2019 campaign that saw Trudeau reduced from a majority to a minority, but within weeks because the target of internal party fighting and damaging leaks that led him to shift gears, and step aside.
O’Toole won the ensuing leadership race. But unlike with Scheer’s election loss, there are already strong voices from within the party speaking out about the need to rally around O’Toole rather than kick him to the curb, and search for a new leader.
Conservative support drops in Alberta, PPC and Kenney a factor: political scientist
Matthew Conway, one of the Quebec representatives on the party’s national council of members, said Conservatives will need to do a post-mortem to figure out what could’ve been done better.
But he said in a minority government, changing leaders after each election simply isn’t realistic.
“I think going into another leadership would be a massive mistake,” he told Global News.
“We can’t be quick. We can’t change leaders after every election. There is absolutely no momentum into that next election. There’s causes too much upheaval.”
A former Conservative candidate and ex-political staffer, Conway said the post-mortem on the election results will need to take a hard look at why some Liberal attacks over things like the party’s positions on abortion access and firearms control resonated with voters.
Both will likely continue to be part of Liberal political attacks in the future, he noted.
“The Liberals will play the fear game and we need to be ready to defend ourselves on that. We need to realize also that the Morgentaler abortion decision was in 1988,” he said, adding more can be done to make it clear O’Toole is pro-choice.
“But also people in our party need to stop fighting battles that were fought many years ago. It’s 2021. … Continuing to fight these battles just allows Justin Trudeau and his corrupt government to continue getting elected, and that doesn’t serve Canada.”
Jason Lietaer, a Conservative strategist, offered a similar case for why O’Toole should stay on.
He said while some party members are getting “restless” after losing three elections in a row, the best shot at forming government again is building on the foundations he says O’Toole laid in the campaign.
“I think the main question you ask yourself is, can this guy win? And I think the answer is yes. It’s one of the reasons why I think Mr. O’Toole should probably get another crack at this,” said Lietaer, who is president of the political strategy firm Enterprise.
“The truth is, it’s a lot easier to win the second time than the first time if you continue to grow in the job. I think he’s shown capacity to grow.”
Canada election: Mood not great at Conservative party headquarters following projected Liberal minority government
Skogstad also noted O’Toole may be able to stave off leadership challenges with the fact that the People’s Party of Canada, the far-right group led by ex-Tory Maxime Bernier, didn’t win a single seat in the House of Commons in the election.
If O’Toole can demonstrate he has a plan to keep building on the pivot to the centre and turn that into more votes, he may have a chance to stay on that Scheer did not get, she suggested.
“A little more than a third of his caucus is going to be from Saskatchewan and Alberta, and we can expect those MP’s to take issue with the kind of campaign that he ran, which is to try to move the party to the centre, make it look much more like an old Progressive Conservative Party,” she said.
“I think he can justifiably argue that the pathway to a national government in Canada does have to be to hold much more toward the centre.”
— with files from Global’s Mike Le Couteur, Abigail Bimman and Rachel Gilmore.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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