Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds his first news conference as leader on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds his first news conference as leader on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

How would an O’Toole-led Conservative government handle the COVID-19 recovery?

How O’Toole responds to the Liberals’ plans will give a signal about where he intends to take his party’s policy

As the Liberal government toils away on a throne speech and post-pandemic recovery plan, newly elected Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is equally at work on his own response.

He’s not said whether the Conservatives will support the Liberals in the subsequent confidence vote, but even if they didn’t, it might not bring down the government.

The Bloc Quebecois says it will push for a fall election but even if the Conservatives agreed the two parties are still a few seats shy of the majority required to overtake the Liberal minority government.

Still, how O’Toole responds to the Liberals’ plans will give a strong signal about where he intends to take his party’s own policy for the post-pandemic period — and what he will pitch to voters in the next federal election.

In an interview with Durham Radio News on Wednesday, two days after he won the leadership race, O’Toole said he doesn’t think the Liberals have any intention of working with their opponents to stave off a fall election.

“I don’t want him to have a recovery plan that is more about ideological Liberal talking points than the well-being of Canadians,” O’Toole said.

That’s why he brought up the subject of Western alienation in his first call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he said.

“This throne speech he’s doing, if it adds to Western alienation, Canada is seeing risks we haven’t seen since the referendum of 1995,” he said.

“I will be very fair with him, but I will be direct. I think he is taking Canada in a very dangerous way.”

READ MORE: ‘I don’t drop the ball’: O’Toole promises to fight for West, human rights

Which way O’Toole would like to take Canada was, of course, a large part of the leadership race he won in the early hours of Aug. 24.

When the COVID-19 pandemic gripped Canada early in that the race, he and the other candidates were forced to reframe some of their platforms to reflect the disaster the novel coronavirus was causing to the economic and social fabric of the country.

So, his platform does give some clues about what O’Toole would seek to do when setting Canada on a path to recovery.

A couple of caveats for those seeking to read the tea leaves: one, a leadership race platform and campaign promises do not always transition to a general election plan.

Also, O’Toole’s platform was released prior to the Liberal government doing several things that he also suggested he would like to do, including winding down the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and expanding employment insurance.

Still, here’s a look at some specific ideas he did advance as part of a nine-point plan.

There are specific measures related to COVID-19 throughout the plan, including ensuring increased testing capacity, reliable domestic supplies of personal protective equipment and using agricultural research funding to get more food grown in Canadian greenhouses.

He also promised to call a royal commission into the pandemic within 100 days of assuming office to ensure lessons learned are applied going forward.

Other ideas include:

— a reduced EI premium for any increase in $50,000 insurable earnings over the previous tax year to promote hiring, an expansion of the emergency loans program for business, and amendments to bankruptcy laws to make it easier for companies to restructure.

— turning the existing deduction for child-care expenses into a refundable tax credit covering up to 75 per cent of those expenses, though how much a family could get back would depend on their income. He’d also double the limits under the existing deduction, and extend the boost the Liberals gave to the Canada Child Benefit until the end of 2021.

— he’d give broadband internet providers a tax credit to cover the cost of replacing Huawei components on 5G infrastructure; review the tax code to simplify and flatten taxes; a new law to ensure free trade across provincial borders.

— A National Strategic Pipelines Act to speed approval of pipelines considered in the national interest, which he defined as “lines providing access to global markets or domestic refinery capability, especially petrochemical refineries producing the materials essential to PPE production.” He also suggested he’d work with the U.S. and Mexico to strike a deal to end the importation of oil from outside the continent.

— If unemployment numbers remain high due to the pandemic, he is also suggesting a shift in immigration, suggesting that Canada cut back the number of workers it is seeking to admit and instead increase people coming to reunite with their families, particularly if they can help with child care or family support here.

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 CanadaCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

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

Castlegar City Councilors Dan Rye and Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff at Winterfest 2019. Photo: Betsy Kline
Join the Castlegar Making Spirits Bright challenge

Go all out with your Christmas decorating and send us a photo to enter

Glacier Gymnastics head coach Sandra Long says she doesn’t understand why her sport is currently shut down while others are allowed to operate. Photo: Tyler Harper
‘It is bewildering’: Nelson sports leaders call out provincial shut down

Indoor group classes for activities such as gymnastics and dance are on hold

Slocan Valley communities struggling with the need for high-speed internet should consider Kaslo’s model, according to the Kaslo infoNet Society. Photo: Black Press
Follow Kaslo’s lead for fibre service, says proponent

Tim Ryan of Kaslo infoNet Society says bringing high-speed internet to rural homes is possible

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

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

Interior Health said its new toll-free line will help people connect to health-care services. (File)
Interior Health expands toll-free line to improve access to community care

By calling1-800-707-8550, people can be connected to several health-care services

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Most Read