Chris Selley: O’Toole is widening his base but risks alienating party members


Conservatives may caricature Justin Trudeau as a vain narcissist who’s far too enamoured of his own voice. No one would deny that he likes the microphone. But Trudeau’s daily press conferences are far more a group effort than Erin O’Toole’s. Local candidates usually introduce Trudeau: Caroline Desrochers in La Prairie on Sunday, Sven Spengemann in Mississauga-Lakeshore the day before, Margaret Bennett in Hamilton Centre the day before that. Other candidates in attendance at least get a shout-out. O’Toole’s press conferences are pretty much all about him, the party platform, and the supposedly “changed” party itself. Photo-ops, shout-outs and praise for his candidates is mostly confined to evening rallies. At a Saturday-morning press conference in Whitby, Ont., O’Toole only mentioned local candidate Maleeha Shahid in response to a reporter’s question about why he thought he could win the riding this time around, the party having narrowly lost it in 2019 and 2015. (In the latter case they lost it to Liberal Celina Caesar-Chavannes, whose spectacular falling out with Trudeau culminated Sunday in her publicly supporting Shahid.)

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