Denise Batters remains a member of the Senate Conservative caucus, even though Erin O’Toole ousted the Saskatchewan senator from the national Conservative caucus earlier this week for challenging his leadership of the party.
On Thursday, Karine Leroux, a spokesperson for Don Plett, the leader of the opposition in the Senate, confirmed that Ms. Batters is a current member of the Senate Conservative caucus. Ms. Leroux said she could not elaborate, because doing so would “encroach on caucus confidentiality.”
Mr. Plett, who is also a former Conservative party president, declared his support for Mr. O’Toole’s action against Ms. Batters this week.
“As always, I continue to support Erin O’Toole’s strong and principled leadership to unite the Conservative Party of Canada” Mr. Plett said in a tweet on Tuesday after the Conservatives announced that Ms. Batters was no longer a member of the national caucus.
A spokesperson for Ms. Batters declined to comment on Thursday.
On Monday, Ms. Batters launched a petition that urged party members to support a review of Mr. O’Toole’s leadership within the next six months, rather than wait for the next party convention, which is expected in 2023.
Ms. Batters was the first caucus member to publicly disavow Mr. O’Toole, but she said in a statement accompanying the petition that there were many Conservatives unhappy with his leadership.
She has publicly criticized Mr. O’Toole for shifting the party’s positions on such issues as carbon pricing and firearms without adequate input from party and caucus members. And she has blamed him for the fact that the party won fewer votes in the most recent election than it did in 2019.
Mr. O’Toole moved to bar Ms. Batters from caucus after she launched the petition. In a statement announcing the action against the senator, Mr. O’Toole said he would “not tolerate an individual discrediting and showing a clear lack of respect towards the efforts of the entire Conservative caucus, who are holding the corrupt and disastrous Trudeau government to account.”
Later, Mr. O’Toole told journalists that his critics could meet the same fate as Ms. Batters if they were found to be working against the Conservative party’s effort to focus on the economy, the pandemic and the “corrupt and cover-up-prone” Liberal government.
“Anyone who is not on that page, who’s not putting the team and the country first, will not be part of this team,” Mr. O’Toole said ahead of a two-day caucus meeting that concluded on Thursday.
Josie Sabatino, Mr. O’Toole’s acting communications director, referred questions about Ms. Batters’s membership in the Conservative Senate caucus to the Senate.
Alissa Golob, executive director of Right Now, an anti-abortion group, said that her organization is urging its supporters to sign Ms. Batters’s petition.
The organization has begun circulating an e-mail denouncing Mr. O’Toole for not leading the Conservatives to government this year, and for shifting his positions on issues such as conscience rights. Mr. O’Toole has said he is pro choice.
In an interview, Ms. Golob said the decision to remove Ms. Batters from the national Conservative caucus has angered some Conservatives.
“I think he is beyond political saving,” she said of Mr. O’Toole.
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