Transcript: Erin O'Toole: Canada's New Conservative Party Leader | Sep 11, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and striped gray tie.

A caption on screen reads "Canada's new Conservative Party Leader. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says ALTHOUGH HE IS A THE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR DURHAM AND IT WAS HIS SECOND CRACK AT THE LEADERSHIP OF THE FEDERAL CONSERVATIVE PARTY, ERIN O'TOOLE WAS NOT THE FRONT RUNNER GOING INTO THIS YEAR'S CONTEST TO TAKE OVER FROM ANDREW SCHEER. BUT PROVING ONCE AGAIN THAT CAMPAIGNS MATTER, THE FORMER HARPER CABINET MINISTER AND VETERAN OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE WON THE JOB ON THE THIRD BALLOT. HE IS NOW LEADER OF CANADA'S OFFICIAL OPPOSITION. AND A MAN ON A MISSION TO INTRODUCE HIMSELF TO CANADIANS. WITH THAT WE WELCOME ERIN O'TOOLE, WHO IS IN ONTARIO'S CAPITAL CITY TONIGHT...

Erin is in his late forties, clean-shaven and balding. He's wearing a blue suit, shirt and tie.

Steve continues FIRST OF ALL, ERIN, IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN AND CONGRATULATIONS THAT WAS A NICE LITTLE CORONATION YOU ENJOYED A FEW WEEKS BACK.

The caption changes to "Erin O'Toole. Conservative Party of Canada Leader."

Erin says WELL, IT WAS THE CULMINATION OF A LONG CAMPAIGN, STEVE. AND IT'S GREAT TO BE ON ONE OF MY FAVOURITE PUBLIC AFFAIRS SHOW, "THE AGENDA" AS LEADER OF THE CONSERVATIVES.

Steve says I DON'T KNOW IF YOU KNOW THIS, BUT IT'S ACTUALLY BEEN ALMOST 60 YEARS... LESTER PEARSON WAS THE LAST PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA WHO ACTUALLY HAD MILITARY EXPERIENCE. SO IF YOU GET THE JOB, YOU KNOW, YOU WILL BE BLAZING A RELATIVELY UNTROD PATH OVER THE LAST SIX DECADES SO LET'S START THERE. WHAT IN YOUR MILITARY BACKGROUND HELPS PREPARE YOU FOR THE JOB YOU WANT?

The caption changes to "Erin O'Toole. Leader of Canada's Official Opposition."
Then, it changes again to "From wingman to commander."

Erin says WELL, I LEARNED THAT IF YOU CAN'T FOLLOW AND BE PART OF A TEAM, YOU CAN'T HAVE THE SKILLS AND ABILITY TO LEAD THAT TEAM. SO I'M VERY PROUD OVER THE COURSE OF MY LIFE THAT WHETHER IN THE MILITARY, BUSINESS, MY CHARITABLE WORK, OR IN OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES, I HAVE BEEN PART OF TEAMS AND LEARNED FROM THE PEOPLE AROUND ME. AND NOW I'M TAKING ALL THOSE SKILLS WITH ME TO LEAD, STEVE. MY MILITARY TIME REALLY DEEPENED MY LOVE OF THE COUNTRY. I'M A PATRIOT. A WORD THAT SOME PEOPLE LOOK ASKANCE AT WHEN YOU SAY THAT BUT I'M WORRIED ABOUT THIS COUNTRY. I'M WORRIED ABOUT SOME 6 THE CHALLENGES WE'RE FACING AND MY MILITARY TIME LET ME TRAIN AND LEARN IN ALL PARTS OF THE COUNTRY SO I'M GOING TO USE THAT BUT ALSO SKILLS I LEARNED AS A DAD, A HUSBAND, A KID FROM THE SUBURBS OF TORONTO. I'M A REGULAR GUY THAT'S BEEN GIVEN THIS AWESOME RESPONSIBILITY TO TRY AND GET OUR COUNTRY BACK ON TRACK.

Steve says WELL, LET'S DIVE INTO SOME OF THE ISSUES HERE. YOU HAVE BEEN CRITICAL OF THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC. I WONDER IF YOU COULD TELL ME OFF THE TOP: DO YOU THINK THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR THE CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT, THE CERB, DO YOU THINK THOSE CRITERIA WERE TOO BROAD?

The caption changes to "Erin O'Toole. Conservative MP, Durham."
Then, it changes again to "Our new economy."

Erin says WELL, I PROPOSED IN LATE FEBRUARY, STEVE TO ACTUALLY USE THE E.I. SYSTEM, EXPAND THE E.I. SYSTEM TO BE THERE FOR PEOPLE THAT WERE LOSING JOBS OR EMPLOYMENT AS A RESULT OF COVID SHUT DOWNS. INCLUDING SELF-EMPLOYED PEOPLE. SO I THINK THERE'S ALWAYS BEEN SOME GAPS IN THE E.I. SYSTEM THAT WE WOULD HAVE NEEDED TO ADDRESS. AND WHEN I WAS PROPOSING THIS, THE GOVERNMENT WAS STILL SAYING THERE WAS NO PROBLEM WE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE TO CLOSE THE BORDER. SO THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT WAS A MONTH AND A HALF TO TWO MONTHS LATE FROM WHERE THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN TERMS OF A RESPONSE. I ALSO THINK MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT BECAME THE CERB PROGRAM, STEVE, THEY WERE SLOW AND VERY CONFUSED ON THE WAGE SUBSIDY.

The caption changes to "Erin O'Toole, @ErinOTooleMP."

Erin continues SO WHEN EMPLOYERS WERE SAYING HOW CAN I HOLD ON TO MY EMPLOYEES OVER WHAT COULD BE SEVERAL MONTHS OF CLOSURES, THEY WEREN'T SURE WHAT SUPPORT WAS THERE TO KEEP THE JOBS. AND THEY SAW THE GOVERNMENT ROLL OUT A CERB WITH REALLY NO QUALIFYING CRITERIA... VERY EASY SO IT LEAD MANY EMPLOYERS TO TO LAY OFF AND LET GO MORE PEOPLE. AND THAT'S GOING TO COMPOUND OUR CHALLENGES REBUILDING THE ECONOMY. AS MORE PEOPLE WERE LET GO BECAUSE OF THE MISMANAGEMENT OF THE PROGRAMS BY THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON THAT, THEN. THERE IS, I GATHER A NEW STYLE OF ECONOMIC THINKING AMONG SOME... THANKS TO THE COVID CRISIS THAT SUGGESTS THAT BALANCED BUDGETS ARE NO LONGER THE BE ALL AND END ALL OF FINANCIAL STABILITY BECAUSE WE MANAGED TO GO FROM A 30 BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT TO A 363 BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT IN ONE YEAR. AND APPARENTLY THE COUNTRY IS STILL ALIVE. DO YOU BELIEVE BALANCED BUDGETS ARE REALLY THE FISCAL IMPERATIVE TODAY THAT WE PRESUMABLY ONCE ALWAYS THOUGHT THEY WERE?

Erin says WELL, I THINK WE CAN'T LIVE BEYOND OUR MEANS FOREVER. YOU KNOW, THE PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET OFFICER SAID THE WAY THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT'S HEADED, THESE SORT OF MASSIVE DEFICITS, 100-PLUS, STEVE, THERE ARE ONLY TWO YEARS BEFORE THE FISCAL CAPACITY OF THE GOVERNMENT CRASH'S TO A HALT AND WE HAVE SERIOUS, SERIOUS PAIN. SO WE HAVE TO BE BALANCED. MY FOCUS WILL BE ON THE WELL-BEING OF FAMILIES AND WORKING CANADIANS. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE GET BACK TO WORK. AND THAT WE HIGHLIGHT THE NOBILITY OF WORK, STEVE. YOU KNOW, PARTICULARLY PEOPLE THAT COME TO CANADA WITH VERY LITTLE, I'M BLOWN AWAY IN MISSISSAUGA AND BRAMPTON AND IN SURREY, B.C., WHEN THESE NEW CANADIANS COME AND WITHIN TWO DECADES THEY'RE EMPLOYING 30 OTHER PEOPLE AND THERE IS A NOBILITY IN THAT RISK TAKING AND THAT WORKING HARD TO PROVIDE FOR YOUR FAMILY. THAT WILL BE MY FOCUS. GDP GROWTH IS GREAT. REDUCING OVERSPEND SOMETHING GREAT. BUT IT HAS TO BE DONE IN A WAY THAT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR FAMILY, FOR THEIR AGED PARENTS. SO I SAID WE'VE GOT TO GET OUR FISCAL HOUSE IN ORDER OVER THE NEXT DECADE OR SO. THE FOCUS WILL NOT BE A RAPID TIGHTENING OF THE BELT TO GET TO A BALANCED BUDGET. THE FOCUS WILL BE THE WELL-BEING OF CANADIAN FAMILIES.

Steve says I DID SEE YOUR LABOUR DAY SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO WHICH AIRED THE OTHER DAY OBVIOUSLY. AND I HAVE TO SAY, I CAN'T RECALL A TIME WHEN A CONSERVATIVE LEADER PUT FORTH A MESSAGE THAT WAS SO UNABASHEDLY PRO-WORKER, EVEN PRO-UNION. YOU SAY THE GOAL OF ECONOMIC POLICY SHOULD BE MORE THAN WEALTH CREATION, BUT ABOUT SOLIDARITY. WHAT KIND OF SIGNAL ARE YOU SENDING INASMUCH AS ARE YOU CHANGING THE IDEOLOGY OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CONSERVATIVE RIGHT NOW IN THE COUNTRY?

Erin says I'M SHOWING THAT I WANT MORE PEOPLE, STEVE, TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND SEE A CONSERVATIVE STARING BACK AT THEM. PARTICULARLY IF THEY'RE WORKING FAMILIES. I WANT THE AUTO WORKER IN WINDSOR, THE STEEL WORKER IN HAMILTON AND SAULT STE. MARIE, SEEING THEMSELVES AS CONSERVATIVE BECAUSE HERE'S THE REALITY: WE ARE THE ONLY PARTY THAT SUPPORTS BUILDING THINGS IN CANADA. BUILDING PIPELINES, GETTING CANADIAN ENERGY TO MARKET. HAVING A SOFTWOOD LUMBER DEAL SO WE CAN REOPEN SOME OF OUR MILLS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, NORTHERN ONTARIO THAT HAVE BEEN SHUT DOWN. I'M PROUD OF THE FACT THAT OUR PROSPECTING, DEVELOPING, EXPLORATION, MINES THAT'S WHAT CANADA'S KNOWN FOR. WE CAN'T SHUT ALL THIS DOWN AS THE LIBERALS WOULD LIKE TO. SO IF PEOPLE WANT TO GET UP EARLY IN THE MORNING AND WORK HARD, THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE ME IN THEIR CORNER. AND THEY SHOULD REALIZE THEY'RE CONSERVATIVE. BECAUSE JAGMEET SINGH WAS SUPPORTING THE ILLEGAL RAIL BLOCKADES MONTHS AGO, SHUTTING DOWN JOBS FOR WORKING FAMILIES BECAUSE OF PROTEST CULTURE AND ACTIVISM. WE NEED A PARTY THAT WILL STAND UP FOR PEOPLE, WANTS TO WORK HARD AND BUILD THE COUNTRY. UNION MEMBERS I MENTIONED THEM IN MY VICTORY SPEECH AT 1:30 IN THE MORNING, STEVE. I WANT THEM TO SEE A PLACE FOR UNIONS AND STANDING UP FOR WORKERS IN THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY.

Steve says I WAS UP AND I SAW THE SPEECH. AND THE FACT THAT YOU WERE AWAKE TO DELIVER IT, MORE POWER TO YOU. OKAY. I DON'T WANT TO TAKE A LOT OF TIME ON THIS BECAUSE I KNOW YOU TALKED ABOUT IT AD NAUSEUM. BUT CAN A LEADER WHO IS PRO CHOICE ON ABORTION AS YOU ARE, WHO IS PRO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, AS YOU ARE, WHO IS PRO LGBTQ RIGHTS, AS YOU ARE, SATISFIED THE SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES IN YOUR PARTY WHO HELPED YOU WIN.

The caption changes to "My big blue tent."

Erin says WELL, I AM THE LEADER AS WELL AS I AM TO USE YOUR STRUCTURE. I DIDN'T HIDE THE FACT THAT I GOT INTO POLITICS TO BUILD A PROSPEROUS COUNTRY AND TO SEE CANADA TAKE ITS PLACE ON THE WORLD STAGE WITH OUR VALUES AND ALLIES. AND THEN I DIDN'T GET INTO POLITICS TO REMOVE RIGHTS FROM MY FELLOW CITIZENS. I GOT INTO POLITICS TO SAFEGUARD AND PROTECT THOSE RIGHTS MUCH LIKE OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM ARE SEEN STANDING UP FOR OUR RIGHTS AND OUR INSTITUTIONS. I DO HAVE AN APPROACH OF RESPECT, THOUGH, STEVE. AND I THINK YOU KNOW MY STYLE WELL ENOUGH THAT I WILL HAVE DEBATES AND I WILL RESPECT PEOPLE EVEN IF I DON'T AGREE WITH THEIR POINT OF VIEW. I HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES. THEY'RE A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF OUR PARTY. AND HOW CAN WE WORK ON ISSUES RELATED TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, HELPING THE VULNERABLE, YOU KNOW, STANDING UP FOR THE GREAT WORK DONE BY FAITH COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, RATHER THAN SHUTTING THEM OUT OF PROGRAMS LIKE THE LIBERALS DID WITH THE CANADA SUMMER JOBS GRANT. SO I THINK THERE IS A PLACE. I'VE BEEN VERY CLEAR WHEN IT COMES TO RIGHTS AND I RECEIVED A CLEAR MANDATE IN THE LEADERSHIP, STEVE. SO I THINK WE CAN KEEP THE BIG BLUE TENT. EXPAND IT EVEN MORE. AND HOLD THE LIBERALS TO ACCOUNT REALLY ON THEIR RECORD ON THE ECONOMY, OUR STANDING IN THE WORLD AND THE FACT THAT CANADA IS MORE DIVIDED THAN IT'S BEEN IN MY LIFETIME.

Steve says I APPRECIATE EVERYTHING YOU SAY. AND IT'S A BIT OF A DOUBLE STANDARD IN POLITICS INASMUCH AS THIS IS SOMETHING EVERY CONSERVATIVE LEADER HAS TO DEAL WITH IN WAYS THAT OTHER PARTY LEADERS DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH. BUT I'M JUST GOING BY WHAT MANY OF YOUR SUPPORTERS HAVE SAID WHICH IS YOUR PARTY'S GOT TO FIND ANOTHER MILLION VOTES SOMEWHERE IN THE COUNTRY OR YOU CAN'T WIN A MAJORITY GOVERNMENT. AND, YOU KNOW, YOU'LL FORGIVE ME FOR PUTTING IT THIS WAY BUT CURRYING TOO MUCH FAVOUR WITH SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES WILL BE IN THE EYES OF SOME A VERY DIFFICULT WAY TO ATTRACT THOSE MILLION NEW VOTERS. HOW DO YOU WALK THAT TIGHT ROPE?

Erin says I DON'T THINK IT'S AS HARD AS YOU SUGGEST, STEVE. YOU KNOW, I GREW UP IN THE TORONTO AREA. WE ALL KNOW THE FOOD DRIVE AT CHRISTMAS OR THE DAILY BREAD FOOD BANK. WHY IS IT CALLED DAILY BREAD? BECAUSE IT WAS STARTED BY FAITH COMMUNITY AS MOST OF THE SHELTERS FOR THE VULNERABLE OUTREACH PROGRAMS WERE ALL STARTED BY PEOPLE MOTIVATED BY THEIR FAITH. THAT'S IMPORTANT. I RESPECT THAT. AND WE NEED TO SHOW THAT PEOPLE CAN BRING THEIR FAITH OR THEIR CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES TO PUBLIC LIFE. AND HOW CAN WE INFLUENCE PUBLIC POLICY IN A WAY THAT WE ARE HELPING TACKLE ISSUES LIKE HOMELESSNESS AND OTHER THINGS? NOT BY BOXING OUT PEOPLE, BECAUSE THEY HAPPEN TO BE MOTIVATED BY THEIR FAITH CONVICTIONS. HOW CAN WE WORK ON AREAS WHERE THERE'S COMMON GROUND, WHERE THERE'S POSITIVE PUBLIC POLICY. AND I'VE ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT THIS. AND STANDING UP FOR SOME OF THESE THINGS IN AN AGE WHERE, IF YOU EVEN TALK ABOUT FAITH, SOME PARTIES WILL KICK YOU OUT OF THE PARTY. LIKE WITH Mr. TRUDEAU. I THINK WE JUST NEED TO FOCUS ON THINGS THAT BRING CANADIANS TOGETHER. AND REASSURE PEOPLE THAT RIGHTS GRANTED TO CANADIANS THROUGH THE CHARTER OR THE COURTS ARE GOING TO BE RIGHTS THAT NOT ONLY I SUPPORT I DEFEND AS CONSERVATIVE LEADER.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve says LET'S TALK A LITTLE FOREIGN POLICY. IT IS, OF COURSE, EXTREMELY RARE THAT FOREIGN POLICY EVER BECOMES A DECISIVE ISSUE AT THE BALLOT BOX. BUT HAVING SAID THAT I'M STILL INTERESTED IN WHAT YOUR APPROACH IS. THERE IS THE SORT OF PEARSONIAN APPROACH THAT HAS BEEN THE WAY FOR CANADA FOR UP, MANY DECADES WHERE CANADA TRIES TO PLAY A SOFT POWER MODERATING INFLUENCE IN THE WORLD. AND THEN THERE'S MORE BRASS KNUCKLES, POWER POLITICS. WHICH CAMP ARE YOU IN?

The caption changes to "Our place in the world."

Erin says WELL, I WOULD SUGGEST YOU'RE NOT DEFINING THE PEARSONIAN APPROACH CORRECTLY, STEVE. HE ACTUALLY SAID IN A FAMOUS SPEECH WHETHER IT'S IN THE KOREAN PENINSULA OR IN GERMANY WHEN A CANADIAN SOLDIER STANDS UP FOR RIGHTS AND FOR OTHER COUNTRIES THEY'RE DEFENDING CANADA JUST AS MUCH AS THEY WERE HERE. SO THE PEARSONIAN TRADITION IS ACTUALLY NOT JUST WRAPPED UP IN THIS PEACEKEEPING MYTH THAT WAS CREATED. CANADA OF VIMY RIDGE OF WORLD WAR II, AS I REMIND MY AMERICAN FRIENDS REGULARLY, CANADA WAS IN BOTH OF THOSE GLOBAL CONFLICTS BEFORE THE AMERICANS. BECAUSE OF OUR COMMITMENT TO OUR ALLIES AND VALUE. WE ALWAYS PLAY A ROLE COMMENSURATE WITH OUR SIZE AND ABILITY. AND WE ARE NEVER BELLIGERENT. WHICH I THINK IS AMAZING ABOUT US. BUT YOU CAN COUNT ON US TO STAND UP FOR THINGS WE BELIEVE IN. SOMETIMES IN THE PEACEKEEPING CONTEXT. BUT IN THE POST COVID WORLD, PARTICULARLY WITH RESPECT TO CHINA, I THINK WE HAVE TO STAND WITH COUNTRIES LIKE AUSTRALIA, THE U.K. AND OTHERS TO START REBALANCING GLOBAL TRADE PATTERNS THAT HAVE BEEN DISRUPTED BY CHINA. START STANDING UP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, THE SITUATION IN HONG KONG. THE SITUATION WITH THE UIGHURS WHICH I THINK IS ATROCIOUS, A RELIGIOUS MINORITY BEING PERSECUTED AND TAKEN TO RE-EDUCATIONREEDUCATION CAMPS. I THINK CANADA... I THINK CANADIANS DON'T WANT US JUST CHASING THE ALMIGHTY BUCK THEY WANT US STANDING UP FOR OUR VALUES ALONGSIDE TRADITIONAL ALLIES.

Steve says EVERY SINGLE POLITICIAN WHO GETS INTO POWER IN THIS COUNTRY SAYS SOMETHING LIKE THAT. THEN WHEN THEY COME TIME TO REALIZE THAT IT'S GOING TO HURT OUR BUSINESSES IF WE ACTUALLY SAY WHAT WE MEAN ON CHINA, THEY COMPROMISE OR THEY FOLD OR THEY, YOU KNOW, THEY JUST PUT THOSE PRINCIPLES ASIDE FOR A SECOND. HOW DO WE KNOW YOU WON'T BE THE SAME?

Erin says BECAUSE I'VE GROWN UP WITH A VERY DISTINCT VIEW... A REVIEW OF CHINA. UNLIKE Mr. TRUDEAU WHO SAID IT WAS THE COUNTRY HE MOST ADMIRED BECAUSE THE DICTATORSHIP GETS THINGS DONE QUICKLY, MY TIME IN THE MILITARY SAW THE RISE OF CHINAS A SECURITY ISSUE AND A GLOBAL MILITARY POWER. WHEN I WORKED IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR I SAW HOW CHINA DIDN'T RESPECT GLOBAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND WAS INVOLVED IN COUNTER FIT OPERATIONS AND WAS NOT ABIDING BY GLOBAL TRADE RULES. STOW I'VE GOT A REALISTIC VIEW OF CHINA FROM THE DAY I WAS ELECTED, STEVE. AND POST COVID, I THINK THE WORLD IS GOING TO REALIZE THERE IS A REALIGNMENT OF GLOBAL TRADE. I'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT FREE TRADE AMONG FREE COUNTRIES. SO HERE'S THE KICKER: A MORE PRINCIPLED APPROACH TO CHINA TODAY IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS BECAUSE, STEVE PAIKIN, I WANT TO BRING BACK SOME CRITICAL MANUFACTURING TO CANADA. STARTING WITH PPE, PROTECTIVE PERSONAL EQUIPMENT. HAVE I WORKED PERSONALLY WITH PREMIER FORD ON A MASK COMPANY THAT WILL BE OPENING AND MANUFACTURING IN THE BARRIE AREA AND NOT IN CHINA. WE NEED TO SEE MORE OF THAT. WE NEED TO SEE SOME MANUFACTURING RETURN TO SOUTHERN ONTARIO. AND IT MAY INVOLVE CANADA HAVING TO LOOK AT TARIFFING OTHER NATIONS. AND SO THAT SOUNDS A BIT CRAZY FOR SOMEONE WHO'S A FREE TRADER. BUT I WANT FREE TRADE AMONGST COUNTRIES THAT FOLLOW THE RULES FOLLOW THE RULES AND THAT'S WHAT WE HAVEN'T SEEN WITH RESPECT TO CHINA.

Steve says WE'RE IN THE MIDST OF A CULTURAL SLASH RACE RELATIONS RECKONING. AND I WANT TO TOUCH ON THAT. THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO BELIEVE THAT CANADA WAS BUILT ON WHITE SUPREMACY. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?

The caption changes to "Racism, culture wars, and history."

Erin says I TRIED TO ADDRESS THAT THIS WEEK IN MY FIRST SPEECH TO CAUCUS. STEVE I KNOW YOU HAVE WRITTEN A LOT ABOUT THIS. HOW WE LOOK BACK AT THE PAST BASED ON OUR VALUES OF TODAY IT'S A DIFFICULT EXERCISE. AND I QUOTED SENATOR SINCLAIR WHO RAN THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION. HOW CAN WE NOT TEAR DOWN AND DESTROY STATUES AND ERASE OUR HISTORY BUT HOW CAN WE PROVIDE CONTEXT SO THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND IT TODAY TO ACTUALLY SHOW WE'VE MADE PROGRESS AND IDENTIFY WHERE AREAS WE NEED TO MAKE MORE PROGRESS. I RAISED LOUIS RIEL IN MY SPEECH AS WELL WHICH PROBABLY HAD SOME IN THE PRESS GALLERY SAYING IS ERIN O'TOOLE WADING INTO HISTORY AND POLITICAL CORRECT UNNAVIGABLE WATERS. NO ONE IS PERFECT. I'M ALWAYS TRYING TO BE ETHICAL AND TO DO MY BEST. BUT WE SHOULD LOOK BACK AND SAY PEOPLE LIKE MACDONALD, PEOPLE LIKE RIEL, DID SOME INCREDIBLE THINGS TO BUILD THE COUNTRY THAT I THINK IS THE GREATEST IN THE WORLD. THEY ALSO DID SOME TERRIBLE THINGS AND WERE PEOPLE OF THEIR ERA. HOW CAN WE LEARN NOT TO STRIKE DOWN? AND I THINK THIS PRESENTISM, JUDGING 160 YEARS AGO BY THE STANDARDS AND MORALS OF TODAY IS A BIT OF A DANGEROUS GAME THAT CAN BE USED FOR A POLITICAL NARRATIVE OFTEN ON THE LEFT. SO I TRY TO WADE IN RESPECTFULLY. I HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS FOR MANY YEARS NOW. AND I THINK CANADIANS DON'T WANT TO SEE HISTORICAL FIGURES CANCELLED. THEY WANT TO SEE A SERIOUS DISCUSSION SO THAT WE CAN LEARN AND GET BETTER.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Steve says MANY CONSERVATIVE POLITICIANS... AND I THINK DOUG FORD'S ONE OF THEM... THINK IT'S UNFAIR TO BE COMPARED TO DONALD TRUMP. BUT YOU JUST NAMED YOUR ECONOMIC PLAN CANADA FIRST. WHICH SOUNDS A BIT LIKE AMERICA FIRST, WHICH IS WHAT HE'S GOING AFTER. WHAT ARE YOU SIGNALING BY CALLING YOUR PLANK "CANADA FIRST"?

Erin says I'M SIGNALING THAT WE NEED TO BE READY FOR A SECOND WAVE OF COVID-19. AND THERE ARE SOMETIMES WE CAN'T EVEN TRUST OUR CLOSEST FRIENDS IN THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE WE SAW WHAT HAPPENED WITH 3M AND PPE WHEN THE WORLD WAS IN CRISIS, STEVE. SO WHEN I'VE TALKED ABOUT BRINGING SOME JOBS AND CRITICAL MANUFACTURING BACK TO CANADA AND HAVE WORKED ALREADY WITH PREMIER FORD AND OTHER LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT ON THIS, THAT'S WHAT I MEAN. WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO BE READY. BECAUSE IF WE HAVE A SECOND WAVE, I WANT TO MAKE SURE OUR SENIORS AND OUR VULNERABLE CITIZENS ARE TAKEN CARE OF. THAT OUR FRONT LINE HEALTH CARE WORKERS AND ESSENTIAL WORKERS HAVE WHAT THEY NEED. AND THE HOPE AS WE LEARN THE LESSONS FROM THE FIRST WAVE AND DON'T HAVE A COMPLETED ECONOMIC SHUT DOWN. WE LEARN HOW TO DISTANCE, HOW TO USE MASKS, HOW TO SANITIZE. HOW TO AVOID TRANSMISSION, KEEP THE CURVE FLAT. AND PUTTING AN EMPHASIS ON GETTING CANADA READY, MAKING SURE WE ARE NOT GOING TO RELY ON ANYONE ELSE, STEVE. BECAUSE WE SAW IN A PANDEMIC THAT CAN'T HAPPEN. YOU CAN'T RELY OWNERS. YOU HAVE TO HAVE THAT ABILITY YOURSELF. AND I THINK A LOT OF CANADIANS WANT TO KNOW THAT, TO REASSURE THE COUNTRY AS WE HEAD INTO THE NEXT NUMBER OF MONTHS WHERE WE COULD SEE CONTINUED SPIKE IN CASES.

Steve says I DO WANT TO DO ONE LITTLE FOLLOW UP ON POPULISM, THOUGH, ON THE ONE HAND YOU DID BANG A BIT OF A POPULIST DRUM DURING THE COURSE OF YOUR LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN. ON THE OTHER HAND I HEAR DAVID HURLY WHO USED TO REPRESENT THE LIBERAL PARTY QUITE ACTIVELY WHEN PAUL MARTIN WAS THE PRIME MINISTER, I HEARD HIM ON THE HURLY BURLY POD CAST SAY THINGS LIKE YOU ARE HITTING THE POPULIST NOTES BUT IN A VERY REASONABLE WAY THESE DAYS SO LET ME ASK YOU: WALKING THAT TIGHT ROPE, NOT BEING TRUMPY IN THE WAY YOU ARE POPULIST, BEING A MORE REASONABLE POPULIST, ARE WE ON TO SOMETHING HERE IN TERMS OF THE SECRET TO WHAT YOU HOPE WILL BE YOUR SUCCESS?

Erin says WELL, I OFTEN LOOK AT FIGURES LIKE WINSTON CHURCHILL. THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE AND THE WILL OF PARLIAMENT, IS THAT POPULISM, STEVE? I'M TRYING TO ADDRESS THE HOPES, ASPIRATIONS AND CONCERNS OF CANADIANS. WESTERN ALIENATION, MY FRIEND HERE IN ONTARIO DON'T KNOW HOW DEEP SEATED THE FRUSTRATION IS IN WESTERN CANADA. THEY SEE OTTAWA HAVING REMOVED THEIR ABILITY TO THRIVE. IS MY ADDRESSING THEIR CONCERNS IN SOME CASES THEY WANT TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY, IS THAT POPULISM? OR IS THAT JUST LISTENING TO THE NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE? MY FIGHT FOR WORKING FAMILIES AND WANTING TO GET MORE UNION MEMBERS AND STAND UP FOR THEM AS A LEADER, IS THAT POPULISM OR IS THAT JUST RESPONDING AND MAKING SURE THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY IS RELEVANT TO THE NEEDS OF THE DAY? I DON'T DEFINE IT IN ANY WAY. I WOULD SAY WHAT WE ARE DOING HERE IS A LITTLE MORE SIMILAR TO WHAT BORIS JOHNSON HAS DONE IN THE U.K. WE HAVE LOOKED TO SEE HOW HE MADE BREAKTHROUGHS WITH LONG-STANDING LABOUR VOTERS. BY CHAMPIONING THIS CONTEXT OF BUILDING THE COUNTRY STRONGER, MORE RESILIENT TOGETHER. WE DON'T LOOK TO ANYONE BUT OURSELVES FOR GUIDANCE. BUT CERTAINLY I WANT TO MAKE SURE CANADIANS... MORE OF THEM... SEE THEMSELVES REFLECTED IN OUR PARTY.

Steve says OKAY, WE OFTEN SPEND TIME IN THIS PROGRAM TALKING BIGGER PICTURES AS OPPOSED TO THE NEWS OF THE DAY BUT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THINK I'M AN IDIOT IF I DON'T ASK YOU ABOUT HOW YOU'LL VOTE ON THE THRONE SPEECH COMING UP. LET ME ASK YOU POLITICS OF THE DAY QUESTION HAVE YOU MADE A DECISION ON HOW YOU WILL VOTE ON THE THRONE SPEECH YET?

The caption changes to "To the ballot box?"

Erin says STEVE, MY FATHER A NUMBER OF GREAT EXPRESSIONS HE SAID YOU ARE BORN WITH TWO YEARS AND ONE MOUTH SO YOU SHOULD LISTEN TWICE AS MUCH AS YOU TALK. I HAVEN'T HEARD THE THRONE SPEECH YET, STEVE. IN FACT, WHEN THE PRIME MINISTER CALLED TO CONGRATULATE ME THE MORNING AFTER I WON THE LEADERSHIP, HE... IT WAS JUST A NICE CALL. BUT I SAID, LOOK, THERE ARE TWO THINGS I WANT TO TALK ABOUT PRIME MINISTER, ONE IS WESTERN ALIENATION. IT IS SERIOUS. OUR UNITY IS AT RISK. AND THE OTHER IS THE RETURN OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES STUDYING A RANGE OF THINGS THAT WERE SHUT DOWN BY PROROGATION. AND I SAID PARTICULARLY WITH THE THRONE SPEECH, IF YOU CONTINUE TO STRIKE DOWN THE RESOURCE ECONOMY, YOU'RE GOING TO NOT JUST UNDERMINE OUR PROSPERITY AS A COUNTRY YOU'RE GOING TO LEAD TO MORE DIVISION. SO I WANT TO SEE WHAT HE HAS IN THE SPEECH. I DON'T WANT HIM TO USE THIS SPEECH AS AN EXCUSE TO AVOID ACCOUNTABILITY AND FORCE SOME ELECTION ON SOME GREEN BOON DONGLE SHINY OBJECT SPEECH. I WANT TO SEE SLEEVES RESPONDED UP. AND HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THE MILLION CANADIANS WHO ARE UNEMPLOYED AND ENDING CERB BENEFITS, HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THEM BACK TO WORK? HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET OUR COUNTRY MOVING AND UNITE SOME OF THE PEOPLE LOSING FAITH IN OUR COUNTRY. AND WE'RE WILLING TO WORK WITH THEM IF THERE ARE SOME PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS THERE. WE ALSO AS I SAID IN MY VICTORY SPEECH, WE ALSO HAVE TO START DEFINING OUR OWN VISION FOR CANADIANS AND I WILL TRY AND DO A LITTLE BIT OF THAT AS WELL.

Steve says THEY'RE PROBABLY COUNTING ON THE FACT THAT YOU AS A BRAND NEW LEADER WHOSE FEET ARE BARELY WET AS THE LEADER OF YOUR PARTY WILL WANT TO AVOID A GENERAL ELECTION THIS SOON INTO YOUR TENURE. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT?

Erin says THAT'S PROBABLY PARTED OF THE CALCULUS. THEY PROBABLY THINK NO ONE KNOWS THIS KID FROM BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO, WHO HAD TO INTRODUCE HIMSELF IN HIS VICTORY SPEECH. I DON'T CLAIM TO BE A CELEBRITY. Mr. TRUDEAU'S BIRTH WAS COVERED IN MACLEAN'S MAGAZINE. MINE CERTAINLY WASN'T. BUT I'M PROUD OF THE VALUES I'VE BEEN RAISED WITH. AND HOW HARD I'VE WORKED. WE WILL BE READY. I WILL TRY TO GET OUT THERE AND MEET PEOPLE. WE ARE IN A BETTER FISCAL POSITION THAN THE LIBERALS WE PAID OFF OUR LOAN FROM THE LAST CAMPAIGN. THEY HAVE NOT. WE HAVE THE SAME SORT OF ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE IN PLACE. WE HAVE LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY REACHING OUT AND WANT TO GO RUN IN ALL PARTS OF CANADA. WE'LL BE READY. IF THEY RATTLE SABRES, STEVE OUR SABRE IS SHARPER AND MORE READY TO GO. BUT MY PREFERENCE IS TO TRY AND BUILD A VISION FOR CANADA AND HAVE AN ELECTION NOT ON JUSTIN TRUDEAU'S TIMING BUT WHEN CANADA'S READY FOR IS.

Steve says OKAY. IN OUR REMAINING MOMENTS HERE I WANT TO ASK YOU A COUPLE OF PERSONAL QUESTIONS. YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT GETTING OFF THE PATH HERE BECAUSE YOU DID ACTUALLY REFER TO THIS IN YOUR VICTORY SPEECH AT 1:30 IN THE MORNING ON THE MORNING THAT YOU WON THE LEADERSHIP. ERIN, HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOUR MOTHER DIED?

The caption changes to "Formative years."

Erin says I WAS NINE WHEN MY MOM DIED OF BREAST CANCER. AND I WAS THE OLDEST OF THREE CHILDREN AT THE TIME. AND IT'S A DEFINING PART OF MY LIFE. AND I MENTION IT BECAUSE MY DAUGHTER MOLLY WHO JUST STARTED HIGH SCHOOL THIS WEEK, STEVE IS NAMED AFTER MY MOTHER WHO IS STILL A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF MY LIFE.

Steve says I SUSPECT CANADIANS WOULD, AS THEY WANT TO GET TO KNOW YOU BETTER, WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW IN HEAVEN'S NAME YOU AS A NINE-YEAR-OLD MANAGED TO GET THROUGH ALL THAT.

Erin says WELL, YOU KNOW OUR FAMILY... MY DAD WAS ONE OF NINE KIDS FROM PETERBOROUGH, ONTARIO. SO MY AUNTS, INCLUDING AN AUNT WHO WAS A NUN AT THE TIME, TOOK TIME OFF FROM HER MISSIONARY WORK IN BRAZIL TO COME STAY WITH MYSELF AND MY SISTERS. MY AUNT JANE WHO REMAINS AN IMPORTANT PART OF MY LIFE. ALL MY SISTERS HELPED MY DAD PROBABLY HADN'T MADE A MEAL. HE WORKED AT GENERAL MOTORS THEN SUDDENLY WAS ON HIS OWN WITH THREE KIDS. OUR NEIGHBOURS ON MORGAN DALE CRESCENT IN BOWMANVILLE, I'LL NEVER FORGET THEM, STEVE. SOME PEOPLE ON THAT STREET KNOW THAT I START EVERY CAMPAIGN BY GOING TO MORGANDALE CRESCENT. I NEVER WANT TO FOR GET MY ROOTS. AND I DID THAT THE DAY AFTER I BECAME LEADER OR MY FIRST TRIP INTO BOWMANVILLE WE STOPPED AT MORGANDALE. AND THAT'S FORMATIVE IN MY LIFE. I HAVE GREAT ADMIRATION FOR MY FATHER WHO PERSEVERED AND I WAS AMAZINGLY LUCKY TO HAVE A SECOND MOTHER. I DON'T EVEN LIKE USING THE TERM STEP MOM BECAUSE PEGGY BECAME OUR MOM AND THE GLUE OF OUR FAMILY AND THEN WE GREW TO FIVE CHILDREN. ALL FAMILIES FACE THIS ADVERSITY. THAT'S WHY I TOLD OUR CAUCUS THIS WEEK, OUR MOTTO IS MY OLD AIR FORCE MOTTO. PER ARDUA AD ASTRA. THROUGH ADVERSITY TO THE STARS. BECAUSE NOT ONLY DID THAT LITTLE KID WHO LOST HIS MOM PERSEVERE, I'M VERY PROUD OF ALL MY SIBLINGS. MY MOM, MY DAD, OUR FAMILY AND OUR EXTENDED FAMILY. AND OUR COMMUNITY IN DURHAM. REALLY HELPED US SUCCEED. AND THAT'S WHY I ADMIRE PUBLIC SERVICE SO MUCH. AND I THINK DESPITE ALL THE SLINGS AND ARROWS IN POLITICS, IT'S WORTH IT IF YOU THINK YOU'RE HELPING OUR COMMUNITY AND YOUR COUNTRY.

Steve says LET'S SPEND YOUR LAST MINUTE HERE TALK ABOUT YOUR DAD. BECAUSE I THINK THE LAST TIME YOU WERE IN THE STUDIO YOU WERE WITH YOUR DAD JOHN O'TOOLE WHO, OF COURSE, WAS THE MEMBER OF PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT FOR DURHAM AT THE SAME TIME YOUR WERE THE MEMBER OF THE FEDERAL PARLIAMENT FOR DURHAM. I THINK THAT'S THE ONLY TIME IN CANADIAN HISTORY WHEN FATHER AND SON HAVE REPRESENTED THE SAME RIDING AT THE SAME TIME. AND WE HAD A CONVERSATION ABOUT THAT. I WANT TO GO BACK TO THE NIGHT OF THE LEADERSHIP CONVENTION WHERE YOU WON. AND I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE FIRST THING YOU DAD SAID TO YOU WAS AFTER HE SAW YOU WHEN YOU WON.

Erin says I THINK IT MIGHT BE THE FIRST TIME IN JOHN O'TOOLE'S LIFE, STEVE, THAT HE WAS SPEECHLESS. HE WAS JUST SO PROUD. AND TO SEE HIM, YOU KNOW, IN THE COVID ERA, I GAVE THE MOST IMPORTANT SPEECH OF MY LIFE AT 1:30 TO A LARGELY EMPTY ROOM. BUT IT DIDN'T MATTER TO ME. BECAUSE MY WIFE REBECCA AND OUR CHILDREN MOLLY AND JACK WERE THERE AND MY MOM AND DAD WERE THERE. AND TO SEE MY DAD OUT OF THE CORNER OF MY EYE KIND OF HUGGING MOLLY WHEN I MENTIONED MY MOM AND HIS LATE WIFE MOLLY, GOSH, HE WAS JUST SO EMOTIONAL. HE WANTS TO MOVE TO OTTAWA NOW, STEVE, TO BE PART OF IT. AND, YOU KNOW, LOOK, I'M JUST SO FORTUNATE TO HAVE BEEN INSTILLED WITH THESE VALUES. AND I'M STILL THE SORT OF SMALL-TOWN TORONTO SUBURBS KID. AND I WOULD NOT ONLY BE THE FIRST MILITARY VETERAN PRIME MINISTER SINCE PEARSON... PEARSON WAS THE LAST ONTARIAN, STEVE. HE WAS FROM REPRESENTED THE ALGOMA RIDING. I WOULD BE THE FIRST PRIME MINISTER TO REPRESENT A RIDING IN THE GTA. I THINK THAT'S PRETTY EXCITING, TOO.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says THAT IS THE NEW LEADER OF HER MAJESTY'S LOYAL OPPOSITION, ERIN O'TOOLE, WHO IS ALSO THE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR DURHAM. I LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY, ERIN WHEN WE CAN ACTUALLY HAVE A CONVERSATION IN PERSON IN THIS STUDIO. BUT IN THE MEANTIME IT'S BEEN GOOD HAVING YOU ON TVO TONIGHT. THANKS SO MUCH.

Erin says THANKS FOR THE OPPORTUNITY, STEVE. GREAT TO BE WITH YOU.

Watch: Erin O'Toole: Canada's New Conservative Party Leader