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New unifying leader needed for Conservatives, says Langley-Aldergrove MP

Van Popta would not say whether he voted to oust former leader Erin O’Toole
Conservative MP for Langley-Aldergrove Tako van Popta. (Langley Advance Times files)

The Conservative MP for the Langley-Aldergrove riding said he’s looking for a new unifying leader in the wake of the ouster Wednesday morning of former leader Erin O’Toole.

“I’m looking for someone who can unite the party,” MP Tako van Popta said in the wake of the virtual caucus meeting and secret ballot on O’Toole’s removal.

Earlier this week, about a third of Conservative MPs signed a document calling for the removal of O’Toole, who has led the party for 18 months and was leader during last October’s federal election, which left the party in the same position in Official Opposition as they had been before.

“We had a long caucus meeting, a good airing of different points of view,” van Popta said.

In the end, the vote was 73 to remove O’Toole as leader, and 45 for him to stay, the MP said, meaning more than 60 per cent of members of the Conservative caucus voted for a change in leadership.

“A clear result is better than an unclear one,” he noted.

READ MORE: Erin O’Toole voted out as Conservative leader by MPs

The vote came after months of post-election grumbling about O’Toole’s leadership from various members of his caucus, as well as various riding associations.

O’Toole was widely seen as having tried to move his party closer to the political center during the last federal election.

“I can’t say I’m happy about it,” van Popta said of the leadership vote overall.

He noted it was a secret ballot, and would not say whether he voted for O’Toole to leave or to stay. Van Popta did say he was not a part of the original group of MPs who signed the petition that triggered the leadership vote.

The Conservative caucus would be meeting again this evening, again virtually, to choose a new interim leader, van Popta said. He would not be putting his name forward, as he doesn’t speak French, he said.

As for a permanent leader, he said he wants clear, decisive leadership.

Van Popta noted that the Conservative party is a “big tent” and contains multiple different political viewpoints.

“Whoever is the leader needs to respect that,” van Popta said.

The leadership vote took place amid a backdrop of a major protest by the Freedom Convoy of truckers and others, which has clogged downtown Ottawa streets for days, demanding an end to various COVID-related mandates, including the requirement that truckers crossing the border be vaccinated.

The protest has been criticized by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while some Conservative politicians have expressed support for its aims, or for some of its participants.

Van Popta has shared social media posts backing the convoy in recent days, and was photographed with a group of the protesters in Ottawa.

READ ALSO: Langley-Aldergrove MP Tako van Popta backs ‘Freedom Convoy’

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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