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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole delivers his winning speech following the Conservative party of Canada 2020 Leadership Election in Ottawa, on Aug. 24, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Canadians are more likely to say new Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is a good choice to take the helm of the party than a poor choice, according to a Nanos Research survey conducted for The Globe and Mail.

The poll found that 20 per cent consider Mr. O’Toole to be a good choice to lead the party, and 21 per cent said he is a somewhat good choice. Twelve per cent of respondents said he was a poor choice, with 9 per cent saying he is a somewhat poor choice. Thirty-eight percent said they do not know enough about him.

Mr. O’Toole’s victory late last month comes shortly after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament, which will return on Sept. 23 with the Liberals’ Throne Speech. The time away from Parliament makes it difficult for the new leader to define himself, pollster Nik Nanos said.

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Conservative government would aim to erase deficit in a decade, Erin O’Toole says

Prepare for a very different Conservative Leader with Erin O’Toole

“What Erin O’Toole has to do is to introduce himself to Canadians in a way that makes Canadians open to voting Conservative,” Mr. Nanos said.

Since Mr. O’Toole’s election, he has been pitching his party as open to all Canadians. He has stressed the need to reach out to more people to show them that they’re welcome in his party. In his victory speech and again at his first media conference, Mr. O’Toole said people from any race or creed, LGBTQ or straight, Indigenous or new to Canada, and from any faith “have a home” in the Conservative Party. He has also reiterated that he is pro-choice.

Mr. Nanos said Mr. O’Toole’s message is a good first step, and that he will have an opportunity to attract more attention after the Throne Speech.

“It’ll be a big day for the government and it will be his big day when it comes to him responding. … I think that’s going to be his big introduction to the Canadian electorate,” he said.

In a recent interview with The Globe, Mr. O’Toole said he wants to erase Canada’s deficit in about a decade if his party forms government, a timeline he said that can be accomplished without giving credence to Liberal characterizations of a Conservative “bogeyman” who imposes deep spending cuts.

He also called for increased immigration through family reunification as part of a COVID-19 recovery effort to make up for the temporary decrease in economic immigration, while also providing families with child-care alternatives. He defended his commitment to addressing climate change, even though he opposes a carbon tax, and also listed his support for ending the ban on gay men donating blood as an example of how he brings a new inclusive approach to the Conservative leadership.

He has spoken about Western alienation and raised the issue during his first conversation with Mr. Trudeau.

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The poll of 1,039 Canadian adults was conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 3, as part of an omnibus survey. Respondents were contacted through random calls to cellphones and landlines, and the survey was conducted online. The margin of error for a random survey of this size is three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Respondents were also asked which Conservative leadership contender impressed them the most – and most often they said none.

Seventeen per cent said Mr. O’Toole impressed them the most, followed by Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis and former cabinet minister Peter MacKay who tied at 13 per cent, with Conservative MP Derek Sloan at 2 per cent. Thirty-nine per cent said none of the candidates impressed them and 3 per cent said all of the candidates impressed them. Thirteen per cent said they are unsure.

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