Local young Conservatives share mixed reactions on new party leader Erin O'Toole

University of Windsor's Conservative group president Devon Clark says he's hopeful for the party's future with Erin O'Toole as the new leader, though not everyone agrees. 

One Windsorite says if Peter McKay had won she would have left the party

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O'Toole speaks after his win at the 2020 Leadership Election, in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/Reuters)

University of Windsor Conservatives president Devon Clark says he's feeling hopeful about the party's future with Erin O'Toole as its new leader, though not everyone agrees. 

With the help of social conservative members and the backing of Conservatives in every part of the country except the Maritimes, O'Toole won an emphatic victory over Peter MacKay early Monday. O'Toole won with 59 per cent of the vote and 57 per cent of the weighted points up for grabs.

"I certainly hope he'll be able to do a better job than Andrew Scheer in an election scenario," Clark said. "I am hopeful that O'Toole can reach out to Canadians and not make some of the same mistakes that Andrew Scheer did." 

During his winning speech, O'Toole acknowledged the party needs to broaden its base to win the next election and reach out to all Canadians in all regions of the country and those from diverse backgrounds.

survey by Ipsos for Global News done just days before the vote found that 68 per cent of Canadians did not know enough about O'Toole to form an opinion of him. Even a majority of Conservative voters weren't familiar with the man who has now become their new leader.

President of UWindsor Conservatives Devon Clark says he voted for O'Toole and is hoping he can do a better job than Scheer in the next election. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

'You have a home': O'Toole

"I believe that whether you are Black, white, brown or from any race or creed, whether you are LGBT or straight, whether you are an Indigenous Canadian or have joined the Canadian family three weeks ago or three generations ago," O'Toole said.

"Whether you're doing well or barely getting by. Whether you worship on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or not at all … you are an important part of Canada and you have a home in the Conservative Party of Canada."

The speech, Clark said, was well done and reflected the diversity of the party. 

Clark said he thinks Scheer was too silent on certain social issues. By comparison, he sees O'Toole as stronger on pro-LGBT issues but is still able to reach out to social conservatives that form part of the party's base.

WATCH | Here's what these young Conservative's had to say about the party's new leader:

Young Conservatives react to Erin O'Toole's win

1 year ago
Duration 2:56
Young Conservatives in Windsor-Essex are reacting to the party's new leader Erin O'Toole. We hear from University of Windsor Conservatives president Devon Clark and party member Maggie McAuley. 2:56

But not all Conservative party members were rooting for O'Toole, Windsor member Maggie McAuley said she was hoping Leslyn Lewis would win. 

"[I'm] disappointed but not devastated," said McAuley. "An O'Toole win isn't great but it's not the disaster that would have been a McKay win." 

She felt McKay winning would have been "devastating to the party" and said she had been ready to relinquish her membership had he won.  

"Erin O'Toole is an okay middle ground," she added. 

This was O'Toole's second attempt at the party leadership. He finished third in the 2017 race, behind Maxime Bernier and Andrew Scheer. 

With files from Kathleen Harris


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