By Jonathon Van Maren
To witness the career of Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is to think of Kitty Muggeridge’s acerbic comment about TV broadcaster David Frost: “He rose without a trace.” In O’Toole’s case, if the polls are any indication, the end of his brief leadership career will come at the hands of voters — those who have heard of him don’t find much to like.
As I noted in a column on Monday, this is probably due to a combination of a discernable lack of conviction, the absence of any charisma, and a commitment to running a campaign consisting of stern, paternal rebukes to the Conservative base rather than presenting a muscular alternative to the current inhabitant of the prime minister’s cottage. Erin O’Toole ran as “True Blue.” Those of us still watching are wondering: “True Who?”
When O’Toole does make a pronouncement, it is to remind everyone that he is not a social conservative, in case anyone suspected that he was. Responding to Saskatchewan MP Cathay Wagantall’s Bill C-233, the “Sex-selective Abortion act,” O’Toole told a press conference: “As you know I’m pro-choice, and I will be voting against this private member’s bill. I will always as prime minister defend the rights — the human rights — of all Canadians to make this decision for themselves. I’ve been crystal clear on that and will be as prime minister.”