Erin O’Toole is the new leader of the federal Conservative party. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Mitchell’s Musings: O’Toole steps up and into the spotlight

His name is Erin O’Toole and he is the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada after a leadership race that you might have missed due to the pandemic thing, the Trump thing, the BLM thing, well, pretty much any thing that’s been dominating headlines over the last little while more than the Tories-trying-to-finally-get-it-right-this-time thing.

Nevertheless, his low, or no, profile should change soon as he battles to become prime minister in an election that could theoretically come as early as this fall. And although the Tories would never ask for advice from this corner, especially seeing how I qualify as a left-leaning mainstream media type, here’s some observations on the O’Toole file as I see things so far in the infancy of his leadership.

First of all he is a guy. It’s not his fault that his parents chose the more common female spelling of Erin than Aaron but it is what it is and it doesn’t mean a thing about his chances but I thought I’d point it out anyway because I have a thing about names, you know like two ‘n’ Glenns and such.

Now O’Toole came in third in the last leadership race to winner Andrew Scheer, who went on to shed that title by losing to Liberal Justin Trudeau in what should have been a slam-dunk election win but technical foul after technical foul led to Scheer missing an open net on a breakaway (I’m deliberately mixing metaphors by the way) and it’s four more years of the hip and woke one.

The guy that came in second last time around was Maxime Bernier who subsequently quit in a huff and started his own party and rode off into political oblivion in the next election.

So one could argue, quite easily, that it would have been better if O’Toole won last time and should have won this time, or, conversely, if he can’t beat those two in a political race, yikes, the Tories are in bigger trouble than anyone thought.

But this time he was up against the early favourite, hipster and the Tories version of Trudeau charm and looks, Peter MacKay, and upstart, unknown Leslyn Lewis who couldn’t speak French and still almost beat the two veteran MPs.

Nevertheless, he worked hard enough and was far enough right to get Lewis supporters’ support to triumph in the end and deal MacKay, who ironically came up with the empty net scenario in criticizing Scheer’s performance (yes, politics is cruel but karma rules), a humiliating loss.

And after studying O’Toole on Sunday night during the marathon vote session, due to technical difficulties (and these guys want to run the country?), I have a few observations to offer. His acceptance speech was quite okay, well the part I heard, as it was humble, a bit funny, clear, personable – and he even comes across a little nerdy, and I’m saying that as a good thing.

You see, he, and his family, look like the majority of us Canadians: not cool and Hollywood good looking maybe but real, and, hopefully, substantial. Like he takes politics and running a country seriously. He is the perfect nearly-bald foil to the great-hair Trudeau, at least at first glance.

Trudeau is rich, good looking, not exactly humble, and talks like he’s answering a college essay question when we’d much prefer just the facts, Jack.

And although I like Trudeau in many ways and it’s cool to have a heartthrob, young, smart head of state, especially considering south of the border where the guy strikes out on all three counts, sometimes it seems like Justin is too hip for his own good and just plays at being prime minister.

Like if a better offer came along, like ambassador to Bermuda or something, he’d be all over it and ditch the headaches and the posturing and go surfing. Plus his ethics lately, well, he’s an insider and we’re not.

O’Toole comes across as the nerdy outsider who really, really wants to be class president but always loses out to the better-looking, more popular kid who in the end, could really take it or leave it but it sure looks good on the resume and the chicks dig it.

But, of course, the nerd would’ve worked harder and cared more and likely done a better job for the school, er, country.

We’ll soon see how far right the nerd, er, O’Toole, is – he does want to defund CBC somewhat but maybe it’s time, after all every other traditional media is hurting. He hasn’t lied to me yet, so far so good, even though it’s only been three or four days. I say, let’s hear what he has to say.

And if the Tories are smart they’ll play up the nerd angle vs. the too-cool-for-school PM who just might have worn out his welcome. You’re welcome. Let the games begin.

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