Saanich Gulf-Islands Tory candidate David Busch says his party’s environmental platform will be pragmatic, without being punitive. (Ryan Trelford/Submitted)

Saanich/Gulf Islands Tory candidate says new leader will grow party

David Busch had earlier endorsed Peter MacKay, who lost the leadership race to Erin O’Toole.

Local Tory candidate David Busch welcomes the election of Erin O’Toole as the new leader.

“It’s a great outcome to a great race, despite all the challenges, that we have had to face with pandemic and everything else going on,” he said.

Tories chose O’Toole Sunday following a ranked-ballot vote. Busch played coy when asked about his ballot. “I’m not going to actually say who I ranked first or who I ranked last, other than they had all great qualities to offer,” he said.

Some five weeks ago, Busch endorsed Peter MacKay, the last leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and key figure in the creation of the Conservative Party, in a video. MacKay lost to O’Toole during the third ballot.

“He [MacKay] is my choice because … we are mostly going to be going into an election very quickly,” said Busch in the video.

Newly elected Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole delivers his winning speech following the Conservative party of Canada 2020 Leadership Election in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

“I can be happy with all of four of them [the candidates], and at this point, we have a great leader, who is articulate, and I look forward to going into the election with him.”

Commentators argue that O’Toole, who holds a seat in eastern Ontario, must now find ways to unite a party many have come to see as a mainly western party.

Busch disagrees. “He was most popular of the four candidates in Quebec. He was also the most popular candidate in Alberta,” he said, adding that O’Toole is also the most capable person to help grow the party.

Busch said the biggest difference between O’Toole and former party leader Andrew Scheer lies in communication skills.

“Mr. O’Toole is a much better speaker. With regards to individual policy pieces, they will be coming out step, by step, by step as we move forward.”

RELATED: Erin O’Toole wins Conservative leadership after results delayed for hours

Critics of O’Toole have since argued his promise to ‘Take Canada Back’ is another version of Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again.

“We are looking to take Canada back for Canadians, to make government represent all Canadians, and not just the friends and supporters,” said Busch, adding later that the Tories have more in common with Democrats than Republicans.

Environmentalists and Indigenous rights advocates will likely disagree, pointing to O’Toole’s support for energy projects and calls for legislation that would criminalize the blocking of shipping routes.

“I have to see exactly what it was he has proposed,” said Busch. “I’m not sure if we are talking apples and apples. But with regards to blockades generally, one of the great Canadian rights is to the freedom of expression and the right to stand up and protest. This said, you also have to balance that with the country’s needs.”

Busch said earlier railway blockades impact Quebec’s health care system, causing “massive hardship and possibly putting lives at risk.”

He also accused local MP Elizbeth May of hypocrisy for her opposition to the cancelled Energy East pipeline that would have shipped Alberta oil by pipeline to the east coast.

When asked about the Conservatives’ close ties to Alberta’s oil industry, Busch pointed out that Canadian conservatives have a history of enviromentalism.

“It’s been more lately that people say, ‘oh, no, you are only out for this.’ This is where Mr. O’Toole has to be really articulate to get our message out.”


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