Senator Denise Batters Kicked Out Of Conservative Caucus Over Challenge To O’Toole’s Leadership

Senator Denise Batters Kicked Out Of Conservative Caucus Over Challenge To O’Toole’S Leadership

Saskatchewan Senator Denise Batters speaks at a pro-pipeline rally at IJACK Technologies Inc. near Moosomin, Sask., on Feb. 16, 2019. Erin O’Toole kicked Ms. Batters out of the conservative caucus a day after challenging his leadership.Michael Bell/The Canadian Press

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has expelled Denise Batters from conservative caucus after Senator publicly challenged his party leadership.

Ms Batters launched a petition on Monday calling on party members to support a review of Mr O’Toole’s leadership within the next six months.

The senator had said many Conservatives are unhappy with Mr O’Toole’s lack of clarity on key issues and said the leader is seen as untrustworthy.

Mr. O’Toole announced the senator’s departure on the eve of two closed-door days of the conservative caucus in Ottawa.

The Conservative Party is the only party on Parliament Hill to include senators in its caucus.

“Senator Denise Batters has been removed from the conservative national caucus. As the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, I will not tolerate any person being discredited and showing a clear disrespect for the efforts of the entire conservative caucus, holding the corrupt and disastrous Trudeau government to account,” Mr. O’ Toole said in a statement released by his office late Tuesday night.

“Just eight weeks ago, Canadians elected conservatives to hold Justin Trudeau accountable for his economic mismanagement, and to fight the cost of living crisis, skyrocketing inflation and supply chain problems that cripple businesses. That is our focus as a team.”

Ms. Batters responded to Mr. O’Toole’s announcement with a statement on Twitter.

“Tonight Erin O’Toole tried to silence me for giving our #CPC members a voice. I will not be silenced by a leader so weak he fired me VIA VOICEMAIL,” she wrote. “The most important thing is that he cannot suppress the will of our members of the Conservative Party!”

Her message then calls on supporters to sign the petition she launched this week.

Senator Don Plett, the leader of the Conservatives in the Senate, sided with Mr O’Toole in the internal feud.

“Tonight Erin O’Toole has made the decision to remove Senator Denise Batters from the National Caucus,” he said in a Twitter message Tuesday night. “As always, I continue to support Erin O’Toole’s strong and principled leadership to unite the Conservative Party of Canada.”

When the House of Commons meets for the first time on Monday since the September 20 elections, the conservatives will be the official opposition with 119 seats. The liberal minority government will have 159 seats.

Internal disagreements within the conservative ranks have surfaced in recent days following Mr O’Toole’s announcement last week of the composition of his list of MPs who had been awarded high-ranking critics’ positions, giving the party a shadow cabinet.

The list was notable for those who were not included. Several MPs who had expressed their concerns about the party’s position on mandatory vaccinations were removed from the shadow cabinet.

Also notable was that rookie MP Leslyn Lewis did not face any criticism, even though she finished third in the 2020 leadership race that Mr O’Toole chose.

Ms Lewis had made public statements last month in defense of those refusing to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status.

O’Toole and his party have repeatedly declined to say how many Conservative MPs are vaccinated or unvaccinated. The issue could come to a head next week as the House of Commons passed a policy requiring all persons entering parliamentary buildings to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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