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O'Toole welcomes leadership review after third of Conservative caucus revolts

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Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said Monday night he welcomes a vote on his leadership after members indicated earlier in the evening there was enough support within the party to trigger a caucus leadership review.

"I'm not going anywhere and I'm not turning back," O'Toole said in a statement. "It's time for a reckoning. To settle this in caucus. Right here. Right now. Once and for all."

He also defended his vision of the party while calling out Ontario MPP Randy Hillier and former Conservative MP Derek Sloan.

"There are two roads open to the Conservative Party of Canada," O'Toole said. "One is the road of Randy Hillier and Derek Sloan. It is angry, negative, and extreme. It is a dead end.

"The other road is to better reflect the Canada of 2022. To recognize that conservatism is organic not static and that a winning message is one of inclusion, optimism, ideas and hope."

O'Toole’s statement came hours after MP Garnett Genuis released a statement of his own, revealing about a third of Conservative MPs have signed a letter calling for O'Toole to face a caucus leadership review, meeting the threshold to begin a process that could come later this week.

Genuis said he was among the group of MPs to sign the letter calling for the review.

"O'Toole should recognize that his position is untenable, rather than using lies to publicly attack members of his own team," Genuis wrote in the statement.

Ontario MP Scott Reid, chair of the Conservative caucus, confirmed to The Canadian Press that he received a request for a review of O'Toole's leadership with signatures from at least 20 per cent of the caucus.

A vote could come as soon as Wednesday when the party is next scheduled to meet.

In a news release, Conservative MP Bob Benzen stated that he is also among the group calling for the review, and accused O'Toole of supporting legislation that party members do not agree with, including a "de-facto carbon tax policy," and a "failure to clearly stand up for the Charter rights of Canadians during the pandemic."

"I feel that the Conservative caucus has given Mr. O'Toole more than enough chances for a course correction to resolve the concerns of many of the grassroots members of our party," Benzen said in the release.

"In consideration of Mr. O'Toole's record as Leader, I believe a caucus leadership review is the only way to avoid a dangerous split in the Conservative Party that may not be repairable."

ELECTION FALLOUT

Following an in-person meeting in October following the 2021 election, the Conservative caucus gave themselves the power to trigger a leadership review if 20 per cent of the caucus signed a formal agreement. It would need a majority vote afterwards to remove O'Toole as leader.

At the time, O'Toole said he did not feel threatened by the move.

"This is not about a Sword of Damocles hanging over my head. We're united as a team. This is about having a fair and transparent process that a team must have when it respects one another," he told reporters on Oct. 5.

The Conservatives won 119 seats in the 2021 election, a drop of two from 2019.

Last week, a report highlighting the party's missteps in the 2021 election found that O'Toole's choice to communicate with voters from a TV station was "too scripted" and he should've been doing more in-person events.

A source with knowledge of the review also told CTV News that the need to recruit more diverse candidates was also among the priorities.

With files from The Canadian Press, CTVNews.ca Producer Sarah Turnbull and CTVNews.ca Politics Producer Rachel Aiello

Correction

This story has been corrected to accurately reflect Conservative MP Bob Benzen's statement that said Erin O'Toole supported legislation the party did not agree with.

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