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Erin O'Toolecpac / LifeSiteNews

OTTAWA, August 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-abortion Catholic Erin O’Toole was declared the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada early Monday morning.

The tightly-fought race also saw the two pro-life candidates — rookie Ontario MP Derek Sloan and Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis — win a total 35 percent of the vote on the first ballot. 

O’Toole, a 47-year-old father of two, lawyer, former member of Canada’s air force and Sea King helicopter navigator, and current Ontario MP, won a resounding victory over acknowledged frontrunner, former Harper-era MP and cabinet minister Peter MacKay on the third ballot.

He captured 59 per cent of the vote and 57 percent of the weighted points allocated to each riding, and made a strong showing in Quebec and the west.

Staunch pro-life candidate Sloan won 14 percent of the vote on the first ballot, and was thus the first to be eliminated. 

Lewis, who garnered 25 percent of the vote and came first in Saskatchewan in the first round, fell off the ranked ballot on the second round, even though she had more votes than O’Toole. In the Conservative Party’s voting system, each of Canada’s 338 electoral districts is worth 100 points regardless of membership size. Points are assigned based on a candidate’s percentage in each district. A candidate must win a majority of points, 16,901, to win.

Canada’s national pro-life, pro-family political lobbying group, Campaign Life Coalition, which signed up 26,000 party members for the race, lauded the strong showing of Sloan and Lewis.

“The results show that social conservatives continue to be a major and irreplaceable part of the CPC base. In fact, with 35 percent of the vote on the first ballot compared with 16 percent in 2017 for Brad Trost and Pierre Lemieux, so-con influence has grown significantly since the last leadership race,” Campaign Life stated in a press release.

The party received a record-breaking 175,000 ballots, and its new leader “reveal” was delayed six hours because of a glitch with the machine opening the ballot envelopes. Media commentators regarded the robust results for Lewis, a Toronto lawyer who was largely unknown before the campaign, as the surprise of the evening.

They also contended O’Toole won because social conservatives ranked him as their next choice after Sloan and Lewis, although Jason Lietaer, president of Enterprise Canada, observed on Twitter that one-third of voters put neither O’Toole or MacKay on the ballot. 

“That’s wild,” Lietaer said.

O’Toole swung to the right of MacKay and courted the social conservative vote in his campaign, wrote CBC’s Eric Grenier. “And it worked.”

“In the second round, nearly two-thirds of Sloan's votes went to Lewis, a fellow social conservative. It was enough to propel her to first place in the popular vote, but only third in points. With about 21 percent of Sloan’s ballots, O’Toole was able to narrowly move ahead of MacKay on points after the second ballot,” Grenier said.

Alberta’s premier and known social conservative Jason Kenney publicly supported O’Toole, and pro-life Alberta MP Garnett Genuis was among the 38 MPs who endorsed him.

MacKay, who infamously referred to outgoing leader Andrew Scheer’s personal views opposing abortion and “gay marriage” as a “stinking albatross” around his neck, received 45 MP endorsements, among them pro-life MPs James Bezan, Michael Cooper, Cheryl Gallant, Kyle Seeback, and Bob Zimmer.

Campaign Life had advised supporters not to vote for either MacKay or O’Toole because of their anti-life, anti-family stance.

O’Toole billed himself as a “True Blue” conservative in his campaign and said he should be a “second choice” for social conservatives in a leaked video emailed to the CBC, but the father of two confirmed in the French-language debate in June that he supported a woman’s “right” to choose abortion. 

“As a prime minister, I will defend the rights of people including women to choose for themselves when it comes to abortion. And if you hear anything to the contrary tonight, it will be a lie,” said O’Toole in the debate in French as translated to English on CPAC. 

Campaign Life noted in its assessment of O’Toole that during the 2017 Tory leadership race, O'Toole told reporters that he would never re-open the abortion debate, that he plans to march in the pro-homosexual “Pride” parades, and that he long supported gender ideology.

“O’Toole supports transgender ideology and the unscientific theory of Gender Identity. In 2013, he was one of only 17 Conservative-majority MPs who broke ranks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's principled stand against the NDP's transsexual ‘Bathroom Bill’, [Bill C-279] by voting in favour of enshrining transgender ideology in the Canadian Human Rights Code,” Campaign Life noted.

The race results prove pro-life Conservatives pack a clout in the party that O’Toole will ignore to his peril, said Campaign Life’s national president Jeff Gunnarson. 

“Contrary to the red Tory and media narrative that dismisses socially conservative candidates, these results prove that pro-life and pro-family candidates like Lewis and Sloan, who are unafraid to champion life and family issues, can draw strong support and be contenders,” he said in Monday’s press release.

“We expect that Erin O’Toole will ensure that social conservatives are respected and their values represented within the party going forward,” added Gunnarson.

“If he disrespects the tens of thousands of grassroots members who voted for Lewis and Sloan, he will definitely lose the next general election. Everybody knows you can’t win a general election without your base.”

In his early-morning acceptance speech, O'Toole vowed to unite the party, uphold Conservative values, and take on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to CBC.

“We must continue to point out Liberal failings and corruption, but we must also show Canadians our vision for a stronger, more prosperous and more united Canada,” he said.

He reiterated the Tory “big tent” approach that all Canadians are welcome in the party.

“I believe that whether you are black, white, brown or from any race or creed, whether you are LGBT or straight, whether you are an Indigenous Canadian or have joined the Canadian family three weeks ago or three generations ago,” said O’Toole.

“Whether you're doing well or barely getting by. Whether you worship on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or not at all … you are an important part of Canada and you have a home in the Conservative Party of Canada.”