Erin O'Toole

Erin O'Toole

Erin O'Toole.jpg
O'Toole in 2014
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
August 24, 2020
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
DeputyCandice Bergen
Preceded byAndrew Scheer
Leader of the Conservative Party
Assumed office
August 24, 2020
PresidentScott Lamb
DeputyCandice Bergen
Preceded byAndrew Scheer
Minister of Veterans Affairs
In office
January 5, 2015 – November 4, 2015
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byJulian Fantino
Succeeded byKent Hehr
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Durham
Assumed office
November 26, 2012
Preceded byBev Oda
Personal details
Erin Michael O'Toole

(1973-01-22) January 22, 1973 (age 47)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyConservative
Rebecca O'Toole
m. 2000)
  • Mollie O'Toole
  • Jack O'Toole
FatherJohn O'Toole
ResidenceCourtice, Ontario, Canada and Stornoway
Alma materRoyal Military College (BA, Hons)
Dalhousie University (LLB)
ProfessionLawyer, politician
Military service
Branch/serviceCanadian Forces Air Command
Years of service1991–2000 (active)
2000–2003 (reserve)
Unit423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron
AwardsCanadian Forces' Decoration
Sikorsky Helicopter Rescue Award

Erin Michael O'Toole PC CD MP (born January 22, 1973) is a Canadian politician who has served as the leader of the Official Opposition of Canada and the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada since August 24, 2020. O'Toole served as minister of veterans affairs in 2015. He has been the member of Parliament (MP) for Durham since 2012.

O'Toole joined the military in 1991 and received a bachelor's degree in history and political science from the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in 1995. He was commissioned in the Canadian Forces Air Command (now the Royal Canadian Air Force), serving as an air navigator, eventually advancing to the rank of captain. Following his active service in the military in 2000, he transferred to the reserves and received a law degree from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. He practiced law for nearly a decade until he was elected as the member of Parliament for Durham in a 2012 by-election. O'Toole briefly served as veterans affairs minister in 2015 in the Harper government.

In 2017, O'Toole ran in the Conservative leadership election to replace Stephen Harper, finishing third to winner Andrew Scheer. He has been the Opposition Critic for foreign affairs since 2018. In 2020, O'Toole won the 2020 Conservative Party of Canada leadership election to replace Andrew Scheer, defeating former cabinet minister Peter MacKay on the third ballot.


O'Toole was born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Molly (Hall) and John O'Toole, who served as the member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Durham in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario between 1995 and 2014.[2] His father is of Irish descent, and his mother was born in London, England, and came to Canada after World War II.[3][4] Following his mother's death when he was nine years old, his family moved to Port Perry where he attended elementary school. O'Toole and his family later moved a short way to Bowmanville, where he graduated from Bowmanville High School.[5]

In 1991, O'Toole joined the military, and enrolled at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. He graduated with an honours Bachelor of Arts in history and political science in 1995.

Military career

Following his graduation, O'Toole was commissioned as an officer in the Canadian Forces Air Command (AIRCOM), now the Royal Canadian Air Force.[6] His first posting with Air Command occurred in Trenton, Ontario, where he was involved in search and rescue operations. O'Toole also spent time at 17 Wing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he completed his training as an air navigator.[6]

In 1997, O'Toole was posted to 12 Wing in Shearwater, Nova Scotia. While serving at this post, O'Toole flew as a tactical navigator on a CH-124 (Sea King) helicopter with 423 Squadron, conducted maritime surveillance, and performed search and rescue and naval support operations.[6] While serving at 12 Wing, O'Toole was promoted to the rank of captain. O'Toole also received the Canadian Forces' Decoration for 12 years of service to Canada.[5] O'Toole was also awarded the Sikorsky Helicopter Rescue Award, for having rescued an injured fisherman at sea.[5]

In 2000, O'Toole completed his active service in the military.[6] He transferred to the reserves working as a training officer running flight simulators, while he pursued a law degree.[5]

Legal career

O'Toole graduated from Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University with a law degree in 2003,[7] and returned to Ontario. He articled at and later became a lawyer with Stikeman Elliott, a business law firm in Toronto.[8] During this time, O'Toole primarily practiced corporate law, insolvency matters, and energy regulation.

Between 2006 and 2011, O'Toole served as Canadian in-house counsel for Procter & Gamble.[9] He acted as corporate counsel for the Gillette healthcare, beauty, and paper business groups, provided commercial and regulatory law advice, and was counsel on issues relating to legislation and anti-counterfeiting operations in Canada.

In 2011, O'Toole joined the law firm Heenan Blaikie.[10][11]

Political career

In May 2012, O'Toole announced his plans to run as the Conservative candidate in the by-election for Durham, following Bev Oda's resignation.[12] On November 26, 2012, O'Toole easily won the by-election for the electoral district of Durham.[13] After spending a few months as a backbencher in the House of Commons, O'Toole was named the parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade, Ed Fast, in September 2013.[14]

In 2014, O'Toole partnered with then-senator Roméo Dallaire to host the first Samuel Sharpe Memorial Breakfast, in honour of former soldier and MP Samuel Simpson Sharpe. Sharpe committed suicide in 1918 following his return home from World War I. O'Toole and Dallaire started the memorial breakfast to bring issues of veterans' mental health to the forefront and to improve access to treatment and resources for soldiers suffering from operational stress injuries.[15] In May 2018, O'Toole introduced a motion to install a plaque commemorating Sharpe on Parliament Hill. The motion to install the plaque passed unanimously.[16]

Minister of veterans affairs

O'Toole laying a wreath at the Canadian Cross of Sacrifice at Arlington National Cemetery, February 2015

On January 5, 2015, O'Toole was appointed minister of veterans affairs, replacing Julian Fantino.[17] O'Toole prioritized repairing relations with veterans and addressing the complaints Canadian veterans had with Fantino.[18]

During his time as veterans affairs minister, O'Toole was able to convince the veterans to place a lawsuit against the Canadian government on hold while they entered settlement negotiations.[19] The lawsuit, filed before O'Toole was named minister, was based on Canadian soldiers arguing that the 2006 overhaul of veteran benefits was discriminatory.[19]

2015 federal election

In the 2015 election, O'Toole was re-elected as MP for Durham. He received 45 per cent of the vote, followed by Liberal candidate Corinna Traill at 36 per cent.[20]

2017 Conservative leadership campaign

Stephen Harper resigned as Conservative party leader after the party was defeated by the Liberals in the 2015 election. O'Toole announced that he would seek the interim leadership of the Conservative Party.[21] He was defeated by Rona Ambrose, who named O'Toole the Official Opposition critic for public safety.[22]

O'Toole with Andrew Scheer several months after the Conservative Party leadership election in 2017

On October 14, 2016, O'Toole announced his nomination to be a candidate in the 2017 Conservative Party of Canada leadership election.[23] O'Toole ran a positive campaign and avoided personally attacking other candidates during the campaign, arguing that Prime Minister Trudeau doesn't own optimism.[24][25] He received endorsements from 31 MPs, 12 former MPs, 17 provincial politicians, and CANZUK International.[26][27] O'Toole finished in third place, behind Maxime Bernier and eventual winner Andrew Scheer.[28]

Foreign affairs opposition critic

On August 31, 2018, O'Toole was appointed the official opposition critic for foreign affairs.[29]

In 2018, after Patrick Brown resigned over accusations of sexual misconduct, O'Toole considered entering the Ontario PC leadership election race.[30] He ultimately passed on the opportunity, instead endorsing and supporting Christine Elliott.[31]

2020 Conservative leadership campaign

After the October 2019 election, in December, Andrew Scheer resigned as Conservative Party leader after losing to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.[32][33][34] Scheer remained as interim leader.[35]

O'Toole announced that he would seek the leadership of the Conservative Party in late January 2020.[36] During this campaign, he framed himself as a "true blue" conservative, implying that rivals like Peter MacKay weren't real conservatives.[37] His tone was more angry this time, which he stated was due to his increased worry about the country after 5 years under a Trudeau government.[38]

O'Toole became the third leader of the Conservative Party of Canada after three rounds were counted, replacing Andrew Scheer. His victory was partially attributed to his pitch to supporters of Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis to mark him as their second or third choice.[39] He generally performed better in Conservative and Bloc-held ridings, in rural areas, and in areas with fewer visible minorities. Despite representing a riding on the eastern edge of the Greater Toronto Area, O'Toole performed poorly there.[40] People's Party leader Maxime Bernier criticized him in remarks dismissed by fellow leadership candidate Sloan, claiming he wasn't a real conservative.[41]

Leadership of the Conservative Party

Shortly after becoming leader, O'Toole stated that triggering a fall election was not his priority and preferred focusing on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and finding jobs for the unemployed instead.[42][43] Despite this, he has said that the Conservative Party is prepared for another election if one is called in the fall.[43] On September 2, 2020, he announced that Candice Bergen would serve as his deputy.[44] He is expected to announce who is in his Shadow Cabinet in the following week.[45]

Political positions

Budgets and taxes

O'Toole has proposed to gradually eliminate the federal deficit.[46] This includes eliminating corporate subsidies and implementing a pay-as-you-go rule.[47] Although he had previously supported maintaining funding for the CBC,[24] O'Toole currently supports defunding its digital operations and immediately halving funding for its English television operations, with the goal of privatizing it by the end of his term.[48] He will maintain funding for the CBC's radio operations, stating that it maintains its original public interest mandate.[49]

O'Toole has proposed a $12 billion package to double down on the current government's Canada Child Benefit, increasing the benefit each quarter of the year until the end of 2021.[50] He believes the government should provide parents with child benefits beginning during the seventh month of pregnancy.[51] He believes that two weeks of paid parental leave should be given to women experiencing stillbirths or miscarriages.[52]

He also wants to reduce and simplify taxes, arguing that a complicated tax system benefits the wealthy, who can afford to easily find loopholes.[49] He supports modifying Canada's equalization system, which he argues is unfair to Alberta. This includes abolishing the carbon tax and allowing income splitting for families. O'Toole supports a full review of government spending and a program in which all new spending must be accompanied by an equivalent reduction.[49] He has called for an incentive to reduce employment insurance premiums small- and medium-sized businesses pay for new employees.[53]

Climate change and pipelines

O'Toole supports allowing provinces to scrap the carbon tax, calling it "not an environmental plan, but a tax plan", and will replace federal consumer taxes on gas and other fuels with a tax on industry alone. He has stated that climate change is a global problem which requires a global solution.[50][54] He supports ending Canada's energy imports from outside North America and helping oil companies become carbon neutral. He has not stated any targets for emissions reduction.[50] O'Toole supports the use of various forms of energy, including oil, gas and nuclear energy.[55] He supports the construction of pipelines and opposes bills C-48 and C-69.[56] He would make a National Strategic Pipelines Act to speed up approvals of pipelines deemed to be in Canada's national interest.[57]


During the COVID-19 pandemic, O'Toole released a post-pandemic recovery plan. He promised to launch a royal commission on the issue within 100 days of taking office and stated that the "big government" strategy failed Canadians. He has proposed converting the existing child care expense deduction to a refundable tax credit.[53] He supports extending Employment Insurance for workers after the Canada Emergency Response Benefit ends.[50] He proposes to expand the emergency loan program for businesses and temporarily amend bankruptcy laws to make company restructuring easier.[42][57]

After an anti-pipeline movement sparked rail blockades across Canada, O'Toole promised to make it a specific criminal offence to block them, as well as entrances to businesses and air and sea ports.[50] He also plans on making a law to ensure free trade between Canada's provinces.[57]

Foreign policy and immigration

O'Toole supports a "CANZUK" agreement, allowing freedom of movement between Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand after Brexit.[54] He has proposed tightening up foreign investment groups to deter state-owned companies from non-free countries from buying Canadian resources and companies unless there is a compelling reason to approve.[53] He supports getting "tough on China" and imposing sanctions on Chinese Communist Party officials involved with human rights violations through provisions of the Sergei Magnitsky Act. He promises to ban Huawei from Canada's 5G networks and give other providers tax credits to replace their infrastructure.[57][43][58] He will pressure other countries to stop allowing state-owned Chinese companies from accessing their markets.[50] He supports meeting Canada's NATO commitments. [59]

On immigration, he doesn't support a "Canadian values" test like the one proposed by Kellie Leitch. He opposes Donald Trump's travel ban, claiming it provides a "false sense of security".[59] During the COVID-19 pandemic, O'Toole has proposed increased immigration through family reunification to make up for a decreased amount of economic immigrants.[60]

Indigenous people and reconciliation

O'Toole believes that the path to reconciliation involves a focus on the economy in Indigenous communities. He opposes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, claiming that the Supreme Court has set a higher bar than it.[61]

Social issues

O'Toole is pro-choice on the matter of abortion and opposes legal restrictions on the practice, though he would hold free votes on abortion bills.[62][63] He also supports legislation which would allow health care practitioners to decline to offer treatment inconsistent with their religious or philosophical views.[64] O'Toole voted against bill C-14, which made euthanasia legal, stating that he continued to have concerns about it and would prefer resources be focused on palliative care.[63]

O'Toole supports same-sex marriage and has pledged to walk in Pride Parades as long as uniformed police officers could as well.[62][49] His 2020 leadership platform included an end to the ban preventing gay men from donating blood.[65]

Before recreational cannabis use was legalized, O'Toole supported its decriminalization. During his 2017 leadership campaign, he stated that Trudeau's plan to legalize it would be impossible to reverse.[66]

He believes that individuals should be required to obtain a firearms license in order to own firearms.[67] He has pledged to repeal all gun law changes made by the Trudeau government.[54]

Personal life

O'Toole married Rebecca in 2000. He has a daughter, Mollie, and a son, Jack.[68] O'Toole is Roman Catholic.[69]

Awards and recognition

In 2012, O'Toole was awarded the Christopher J. Coulter Young Alumnus Award by Dalhousie University, for his achievements and dedication to community service.[70]

Also in 2012, O'Toole received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.[71] All serving MPs that year were recipients.[72]

Electoral record

2020 Conservative Party of Canada leadership results by ballot[73]
Candidate 1st ballot 2nd ballot 3rd ballot
Votes cast % Points allocated % Votes cast % Points allocated % Votes cast % Points allocated %
Erin O'Toole (cropped).jpg Erin O'Toole 51,258 29.39% 10,681.40 31.60% 56,907 33.20% 11,903.69 35.22% 90,635 58.86% 19,271.74 57.02%
Peter MacKay crop (cropped).JPG Peter MacKay 52,851 30.30% 11,328.55 33.52% 54,165 31.60% 11,756.01 34.78% 63,356 41.14% 14,528.26 42.98%
LeslynLewis-HEADSHOT1-lg.jpg Leslyn Lewis 43,017 24.67% 6,925.38 20.49% 60,316 35.20% 10,140.30 30.00% Eliminated
Derek Sloan Image.jpg Derek Sloan 27,278 15.64% 4,864.67 14.39% Eliminated
Total 174,404 100% 33,800 100% 171,388 100% 33,800 100% 153,991 100% 33,800 100%
2019 Canadian federal election: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Erin O'Toole 30,752 42.1 -3.03
Liberal Jonathan Giancroce 23,547 32.2 -3.55
New Democratic Sarah Whalen-Wright 13,323 18.2 +2.17
Green Evan Price 3,950 5.4 +2.88
People's Brenda Virtue 1,442 2.0
Total valid votes/Expense limit 73,014 100.0  
Total rejected ballots 480
Turnout 73,494 71.2
Eligible voters 107,367
Conservative hold Swing +0.26
Source: Elections Canada[74][75]
2017 Conservative Party of Canada leadership results by ballot
Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7 Round 8 Round 9 Round 10 Round 11 Round 12 Round 13
Points % Points % Points % Points % Points % Points % Points % Points % Points % Points % Points % Points % Points %
Andrew Scheer 7,375.79 21.82% 7,383.69 21.85% 7,427.00 21.97% 7,455.34 22.06% 7,492.06 22.17% 7,597.28 22.48% 7,764.64 22.97% 8,061.08 23.85% 8,798.38 26.03% 9,557.67 28.28% 10,235.27 30.28% 12,965.47 38.36% 17,222.20 50.95%
Maxime Bernier 9,763.32 28.89% 9,823.57 29.06% 9,854.61 29.16% 9,922.23 29.36% 10,114.67 29.93% 10,208.33 30.20% 10,313.15 30.51% 10,557.48 31.24% 10,709.58 31.69% 11,570.59 34.23% 12,360.08 36.57% 13,647.14 40.38% 16,577.80 49.05%
Erin O'Toole 3,600.72 10.65% 3,609.15 10.68% 3,634.90 10.75% 3,669.07 10.86% 3,708.41 10.97% 3,769.09 11.15% 3,824.62 11.32% 4,181.26 12.37% 4,324.01 12.79% 4,947.86 14.64% 6,372.85 18.85% 7,187.38 21.26%
Brad Trost 2,820.87 8.35% 2,826.57 8.36% 2,829.77 8.37% 2,834.43 8.39% 2,843.35 8.41% 2,852.31 8.44% 2,862.22 8.47% 2,883.76 8.53% 4,340.70 12.84% 4,633.83 13.71% 4,831.80 14.30%
Michael Chong 2,552.47 7.55% 2,572.68 7.61% 2,583.56 7.64% 2,605.63 7.71% 2,618.63 7.75% 2,666.15 7.89% 2,692.83 7.97% 2,907.60 8.60% 2,939.29 8.70% 3,090.04 9.14%
Kellie Leitch 2,366.09 7.00% 2,375.00 7.03% 2,383.03 7.05% 2,398.07 7.09% 2,430.25 7.19% 2,454.84 7.26% 2,516.67 7.45% 2,615.63 7.74% 2,688.03 7.95%
Pierre Lemieux 2,495.71 7.38% 2,498.29 7.39% 2,503.92 7.41% 2,510.33 7.43% 2,518.29 7.45% 2,538.17 7.51% 2,561.77 7.58% 2,593.18 7.67%
Lisa Raitt 1,127.93 3.34% 1,137.56 3.37% 1,164.85 3.45% 1,188.15 3.52% 1,208.97 3.58% 1,244.56 3.68% 1,264.10 3.74%
Steven Blaney 426.37 1.26% 429.13 1.27% 433.00 1.28% 440.71 1.30% 448.37 1.33% 469.25 1.39%
Chris Alexander 379.10 1.12% 385.01 1.14% 391.05 1.16% 407.47 1.21% 417.00 1.23%
Kevin O'Leary 361.21 1.07% 364.74 1.08% 367.33 1.09% 368.56 1.09%
Rick Peterson 220.58 0.65% 223.09 0.66% 226.96 0.67%
Andrew Saxton 169.94 0.50% 171.50 0.51%
Deepak Obhrai 139.90 0.41%
2015 Canadian federal election: Durham
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Erin O'Toole 28,967 45.13 −10.04 $117,180.89
Liberal Corinna Traill 22,949 35.75 +20.22 $51,458.76
New Democratic Derek Spence 10,289 16.03 −7.72 $21,240.10
Green Stacey Leadbetter 1,616 2.52 −2.04 $109.90
Christian Heritage Andrew Moriarity 364 0.57 $4,224.95
Total valid votes/Expense limit 64,185 100.00   $236,417.96
Total rejected ballots 233 0.36
Turnout 64,418 68.93
Eligible voters 93,455
Conservative hold Swing -15.13
Source: Elections Canada[76][77][78]
Canadian federal by-election, November 26, 2012: Durham
Resignation of Bev Oda
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Erin O'Toole 17,280 50.72 −3.83 $95,331
New Democratic Larry O'Connor 8,946 26.26 +5.16 $96,257
Liberal Grant Humes 5,887 17.28 −0.57 $91,946
Green Virginia Ervin 1,386 4.07 −1.32 $742
Christian Heritage Andrew Moriarity 437 1.28 +0.49 $4,379
Online Michael Nicula 132 0.39 $1,080
Total valid votes 34,068 100.00
Total rejected ballots 115
Turnout 34,183 35.87
Eligible voters 95,296
Conservative hold Swing −8.99
Source: "November 26, 2012 By-elections". Elections Canada. November 27, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2012.


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External links

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Bev Oda
Member of Parliament
for Durham

Political offices
Preceded by
Julian Fantino
Minister of Veterans Affairs
Succeeded by
Kent Hehr
Preceded by
Andrew Scheer
Leader of the Opposition
Party political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Scheer
Leader of the Conservative Party


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