Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole arrives with Conservative MP Candice Bergen to announce her as his deputy leader during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on September 2, 2020. Erin O’Toole will lay out a mission statement for the Conservative party today at the first official caucus meeting for the party since he won leadership last month. Hints of the tone and scope of his address to MPs and senators, who will gather largely in person in Ottawa, were laid out in a Labour Day message posted to social media on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole arrives with Conservative MP Candice Bergen to announce her as his deputy leader during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on September 2, 2020. Erin O’Toole will lay out a mission statement for the Conservative party today at the first official caucus meeting for the party since he won leadership last month. Hints of the tone and scope of his address to MPs and senators, who will gather largely in person in Ottawa, were laid out in a Labour Day message posted to social media on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Learn the lessons of history, don’t ‘cancel’ them, new Tory leader O’Toole says

O’Toole, who won the leadership last month, is pledging the Conservatives will be a unifying force for Canada

New Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says plaques, not protests, should take place in front of historical sites and monuments that reflect controversial moments in Canadian history.

O’Toole told his party’s MPs and senators gathered for their first meeting under his leadership that those who are tearing down the statues of the country’s founders are dooming Canada to forget the lessons of history.

The caucus was gathered in Ottawa Wednesday but scattered throughout the downtown. O’Toole himself was at the federal government’s Sir John A. Macdonald building for his remarks.

In recent weeks, statues of Canada’s first prime minister have been toppled or defaced in protests against systemic racism and Canada’s colonial history.

O’Toole noted that Sen. Murray Sinclair, who led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the residential school system into which many Indigenous children were forced, has suggested instead that plaques be placed alongside such monuments to provide a more balanced look at history.

O’Toole said he supports that approach. He contrasted Macdonald’s legacy with that of Louis Riel, the Metis leader Macdonald saw hanged for treason, but who was also considered by some a hero.

Their story serves as a warning for modern-day politicians, O’Toole suggested.

“Theirs is a story of what happens when Canada is divided,” he said. “When Western alienation takes root and people feel ignored by a distant government in Ottawa who does not try to understand the fears and desires of people thousands of kilometres away.”

With his party dominating much of Western Canada, O’Toole has taken up addressing feelings of alienation in the region as one of his priorities as leader.

He pledged Wednesday that his party will be a unifying force in the country and urged his MPs and senators to embrace a motto from his days in the Royal Canadian Air Force: through adversity to the stars.

“Through respect, professionalism, and the pursuit of excellence, we will show Canadians that we are a government in waiting,” he said.

“Together, we will form an engaged, ethical and compassionate Conservative government.”

O’Toole said he wants to show Canadians his party reflects them, and it was with that in mind that he has filled his front benches with a diverse roster of MPs.

“We are here to fight for you and I am asking that you take another look at the Conservative party,” he said.

While O’Toole has spent his first days as leader putting together his team for Parliament, also on the agenda is figuring out how the party will handle its response to the minority Liberal government’s upcoming speech from the throne.

It will lay out the Liberals’ post-COVID-19 recovery plan, and will be followed by a vote of confidence.

“We’re not itching for an election, we don’t think this is the right time for an election,” deputy party leader Candice Bergen said on her way into the caucus meeting Wednesday.

“We want to look at (the throne speech) and see if there’s something that we can support.”

READ MORE: Canadians reluctant to remove statues of historical figures now seen as racist: Poll

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of CanadaRacial injustice

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
Local COVID-19 cases unknown amid second wave

The Elk Valley Physicians have again reminded locals to comply with public health orders to stay safe

The famous band calls Fernie home. (Photo Contributed)
Shred Kelly gets creative with pandemic performances

CBC Radio recently promoted the band, highlighting their recent virtual tour and upcoming plans

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Green spaces have offered many a sense of peace throughout the pandemic. (Photo Contributed)
Nature Conservancy of Canada matches all donations on Dec. 1

The initiative honours Giving Tuesday, an initiative created to combat Black Friday’s consumerism

Signs are posted at the entrance of newly deactivated roads. (Photo Contributed)
Teck hosts virtual Annual Outdoor Recreationalist Meeting

The Dec. 2 meeting will touch on biodiversity, reclamation, and road rehabilitation

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

Most Read