OTTAWA — The Conservative Party has come up short, failing to dethrone the now three-term Liberal Party.
CTV News’ Decision Desk declared the Liberal minority win after polls closed across the country.
As of 11:30 p.m. EDT, results showed the Conservatives have been elected or are leading in 121 seats – making significant gains in the Atlantic Canada region – but not near the 157 seats Liberals look to have gained so far.
O’Toole himself won his Durham, Ont. seat, and many of his previous shadow cabinet colleagues have kept their seats.
There were high hopes among conservatives across the country when the campaign launched on Aug. 15. Poll after poll showed the Conservatives gaining ground on the incumbent Liberals and, at times, surpassing their lead.
O’Toole sought to capture the support of a more progressive elector, promoting the party’s housing, child care, and climate change policies, while at the same time reinforcing responsible post-pandemic spending.
He declared himself as pro-choice and an ally of the LGBTQ2+ community, something his predecessor did not do.
However, O’Toole found himself in hot water when he didn’t distance himself far enough from candidates who posted anti-climate change and anti-vaccination comments online. He also fielded jabs from his opponents for not requiring his candidates to be vaccinated.
He faced another hurdle closer to election day over his muddled response to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s COVID-19 management, even after the provincial leader said he got the response wrong.
“Throughout this crisis, all the provinces have tried to make the balance between making public health paramount and balancing off the economic needs. All provinces have shifted and adjusted based on various reasons,” O’Toole said on Sept. 16.
“But what the provinces have not had is a consistent and reliable partner in Ottawa. Mr. Trudeau fights with people. I will fight for Canadians, and we would never have let the Delta variant get its hold in Canada.”
Another thorn in O’Toole’s side has been the rise in popularity of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) under leader Maxime Bernier. While they haven’t yet picked up a seat tonight, they have garnered thousands of votes in many races.
“This is going to be part of the post-mortem that the party does regardless of the what the results are because if you look at extremely Conservative ridings, there was an increase in the PPC vote,” said Jenni Byrne, Conservative strategist and former senior advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on CTV News.
As for O’Toole’s future, Byrne says it’s in question.
“It was a winnable election…the Conservatives were leading in the national polls. Unlike even in 2019, this election was a lot more winnable for the Conservaties,” said Byrne.
If the next Parliament is anything like last, the Conservatives likely won’t be the Liberals’ main dancing partner getting bills passed through Parliament. Instead, they’ll be searching for collaboration with the Bloc Quebecois or NDP who look to have picked up 29 and 28 seats, respectively.
The leader is watching the election results trickle in with his wife and two children at a hockey arena in Oshawa, Ont and is scheduled to address Canadians later this evening.
More details to come…
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