Skeena — Bulkley Valley politicians react to new Conservative Party leader

Erin O’Toole was elected leader of the Conservative Party of Canada Aug. 24, 2020

The Conservative candidate for the Skeena — Bulkley Valley riding in last fall’s federal election says she’s enthusiastic about her party’s new leader.

“I think Erin [O’Toole] deserves it, he worked really hard and I’m excited to get behind him,” said Claire Rattée following O’Toole’s third ballot win Aug. 24.

“The biggest takeaway for me is just seeing our numbers and our membership growing, I’m really happy with the results because I think that Erin has given really good speeches already and it seems like we are gaining a lot of momentum.”

O’Toole, a cabinet minister in the former Stephen Harper government, secured his victory in the Conservative leadership race after three rounds of counting. Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay finished second, followed by Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan, who were running with the support of social conservatives.

His success in the election is due in part to the ranked ballot system. O’Toole courted supporters of Lewis and Sloan, who selected him as their second or third choice more than they did MacKay.

Now that the leadership race is over, Conservatives are looking to the future, which could include a federal election as early as this fall.

“I will be ready whenever there is one, I can’t wait to get back at it,” said Rattée in confirming she’ll seek her party’s nomination for the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding whenever the next election is called.

“We definitely managed to grow the base here for Conservatives, it was the best showing a Conservative has had in this riding in a very long time so I’m hopeful.”

Rattée has not met O’Toole yet, but she is encouraged by what she has seen from his first few days on the job.

“I know there was a couple of speeches he’s given already where he actually mentioned Kitimat specifically, talking about the aluminum and LNG projects and things of that nature so I do know that he is really passionate about fighting for our resource industry and I know that he’s going to be paying a lot of attention to our region.”

The minority-government Liberals will deliver a throne speech on Sept. 23. After the throne speech is given there will be a mandatory confidence vote in the House of Commons, where opposition parties could vote to bring down the government and trigger an election.

Taylor Bachrach, the NDP Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley who defeated Rattée last fall, followed the Conservative leadership race from the outside.

“I think it’s a very interesting pick for the Conservative Party,” he said.

“He’s someone who ran in the last Conservative leadership race, and in that race he presented himself as an affable moderate. In this most recent race he put on a much more hard-edged conservative persona, so it will be interesting to see which Erin O’Toole shows up in the House of Commons when we come back, and also it will be interesting to see how beholden he turns out to be to the social conservative faction in the Conservative Party.”

The leadership election results were expected early in the evening of Aug. 23 but were delayed into the early hours of Aug. 24 after problems opening the envelopes containing several thousand of the estimated 175,000 mail-in ballots.

While O’Toole ended the night as the new party leader, Leslyn Lewis, a Toronto lawyer who has never held public office won the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding with 34 per cent of the vote.

“Definitely I’m proud to see how well she did and I’m proud to hear she’s going to be running in the next election for a seat, she did a really good job, she’s a really intelligent woman and we’d be lucky to have her on our team,” said Rattée.

Rattée said that Lewis, who is a Black woman, made a statement to those outside the party with her success.

“There’s definitely been a lot of narrative about conservatives being just older white men and so I think that shows that we really are ready to embrace that change and show the rest of the world and other parties that we are not that stereotype, regardless of what that narrative might have been put by the media or put by other parties.”

With files from the Canadian Press

READ MORE: Jagmeet Singh stresses the importance of childcare during Terrace visit


@BenBogstie
ben.bogstie@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In Our Valley: Adam Ferreira

Adam Ferreira is moving up in the hockey world, and he’s excited to see where it leads

Car in ditch after collision at Hwy 37 and Hirsch Creek Park

Two vehicles were involved, but only minor injuries were sustained by passengers

Kitimat Terry Fox Run goes virtual for 40th anniversary

Participants are encouraged to track their walk or run, or just get out within their social bubble

Air quality index raised to a ‘4’ in Kitimat

Wildfire smoke from the U.S. has been making its way north, affecting air quality

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

VIDEO: Tickets now available for the Second Annual Northern View Tyee Fishing Derby in Prince Rupert

Four great locations in Prince Rupert and Port Edward to buy your tickets

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read