Evening Brief: O’Toole out

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Good evening to you.

It’s been quite a day on the Hill, with a turn of events Ottawa’s own Alanis Morrissette would no doubt deem ‘ironic.’ It is strange times indeed, given that many in the trucker convoy that’s now holding the downtown hostage have called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s head. And yet it is Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole — the only party leader to meet with them — who has been ousted in the wake of an inner rank revolt.

Members of the Tory caucus, drawing on provisions in the Reform Act, voted in a secret ballot during a virtual caucus meeting this afternoon to turf O’Toole just 18 months after he took the party’s helm. Of the 118 ballots cast, 45 were in favour of endorsing O’Toole and 73 were in favour of replacing him.

As Rachel Emmanuel reports, today’s vote was the latest and last of many challenges to his leadership that began immediately after the Tories lost the Sept. 21 federal election.

Erin O’Toole delivers his parting message as leader of the Official Opposition. (Screenshot)

A short while ago, O’Toole posted a video message to Canadians on Twitter and offered parting thoughts on what the country and his party needs, despite “having had his time at the microphone.” He said he will continue to serve as an MP and pledged his unwavering support and loyalty to whomever leads the party next, while urging others in the party to do the same. He also said having served at the party’s helm has been the “honour of a lifetime.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted out his thanks to O’Toole. “While we disagree on the path forward for our country, you stepped up to serve Canadians,” he said.

Once the ballots were cast and counted to remove O’Toole, and his resignation was handed in to the party’s president, the race to temporarily replace him began. Tory MPs will meet tonight to elect an interim leader. Aidan Chamandy has more on how that’s taking shape.

Trucks are blocked by police barricades as a rally against COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa on Tuesday. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, out in front of Parliament Hill, as the horns continue to blare and residents continue to be harassed and have their lives disrupted for a sixth day, convoy organizers said today only politicians can clear things up. In the House of Commons, the prime minister said his government is working with local police to put an end to the protest, which he noted “is now becoming illegal.”

Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly says with no deaths, riots or injuries, his force’s response to the protest has been a success. But given the racial double standard in how this has been handled compared to other protests, not everyone agrees. That said, given how volatile things are, Sloly acknowledged he is “increasingly concerned there is no policing solution to this,” and that calling in the military might be necessary.

Oh, and police also expect the protest to grow this weekend. Good times.

Still on the Hill, the government’s highly-anticipated update to the Broadcasting Act won’t impact social media users’ freedom of expression, says Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.The government tabled Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, on Wednesday, after previous legislation to update the Broadcasting Act failed to pass in the previous Parliament, with critics saying it it hindered users’ Charter rights and lacked clarity. Janet Silver has more.

And over at the Senate, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem spoke to a Senate committee, which began a general study on banking, trade and the financial challenges facing Canadians, including inflation. For the first time since 1991, inflation rose to 4.8 per cent in December. The causes of high inflation, such as supply shortages, are temporary and will ease to three per cent by the end of this year, the bank says. Jeff Labine has that story.

Defence Minister Anita Anand meets with Latvian President Krisjanis Karins on February 2, 2022. Photo: Krisjanis Karins / Twitter

Across the pond in Latvia, Defence Minister Anita Anand met with President Krisjanis Karins today, and told the Canadian Press that discussions are underway around increasing Canada’s military presence in eastern Europe. As for when a decision might be made about that, she didn’t say.

In an interview with iPolitics, Governor General Mary May Simon said reconciliation is her priority, calling it not a project but really a way of life. She believes the level of mutual learning, understanding and respect needed between cultures is not yet where it should be in our country today. As for her favourite part of life at Rideau Hall to date? Simon says it’s the motivation of knowing the history and work of those who have occupied her office and the challenges ahead. “I am always inspired by challenging moments. I don’t see them as a negative thing but rather a challenge that I have to overcome.”

Process Nerd: So, how’s the Reform Act working so far?

Net Zero: Mining firms give up mineral claims in Yukon watershed

The Sprout: Kenney urges calm at tense Coutts border crossing

In Other Headlines:


President Joe Biden is sending 2,000 troops to Poland and Germany and shifting 1,000 more from Germany to Romania, but not sending any directly to Ukraine, where the threat of a Russian invasion looms large. As the Associated Press reports, the United States is looking to show its resolve without undermining efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. However, the growing number of U.S. troops in eastern Europe is exactly what Putin has said he finds intolerable. In response to today’s deployment news, Russia called them unfounded and “destructive.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: The Russian Presidential Press and Information Office

President Vladimir Putin also spoke on the phone with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who told the Russian leader he will make a “tragic miscalculation” if he invades Ukraine. While both agreed that “aggravation was in no one’s interest,” the bar was pretty low for this call, given that ahead of it, the Kremlin belittled the UK’s influence in the crisis, noting Putin was happy to hold talks with anyone, even the “utterly confused.”

Imminent no more: Ukraine’s pleas seem to have not fallen on deaf ears. Today White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that she and officials would stop using “imminent” to describe a possible Russian invasion. The reason? It implies Putin has made a decision. “We stopped using it because I think it sent a message that we weren’t intending to send, which was that we knew that President Putin had made a decision,” she said.

In Other International Headlines:

In Opinion:

Chad Richards: Team Canada needs to push net-zero electricity grid

Julian Lindley-French: To keep the peace, NATO must be ready to fight the wars

The Kicker:

It’s been an eventful day for Erin O’Toole’s everywhere, as it turns out. Including the Twitter. While this Colorado journalist, who has been mistakenly tagged too many times to count, is relieved (mainly for her Twitter mentions) by the news of the day, she’s also a little sad that the “incredible and unusual relationship” that’s unfolded over the last 17 months may be coming to an end.

And with a move out of Stornoway now in the mix, does anyone know where the other O’Toole might find a truck?

Have a good night.


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