I believe this is a uniquely important leadership race in the Conservative Party this year. Canada badly needs a change of government. For this reason I would like to offer you a look at the four candidates and my personal view on who would best achieve this goal.

Erin O’Toole was born in Montreal. He enrolled in the RCAF when he was 18 and attended the Royal Military College. He did basic training in Chilliwack, BC; got his wings in Winnipeg; and served out of Halifax. He knows this country. Completely bilingual, after 12 years of service he retired from the military and spent the next decade working in the private sector as a corporate lawyer for Stikeman Elliott. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors for the True Patriot Love Foundation, a charity that serves veterans and military families across Canada. Since 2012 he has been elected to Parliament three times in his Ontario riding of Durham.He served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade before becoming Minister of Veterans Affairs. For the last two years, Erin served as Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs. Erin is married to Rebecca and they have two children. For O’Toole this is a time when, “We are in a battle for the soul of the Conservative party. It is a contest about what kind of party we are. A party that becomes more like the Liberals or one that believes we win when we take a principled conservative stand.”

Peter MacKay was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. He grew up in Conservative politics with his father Elmer serving in Parliament for 22 years and being a major political leader in Atlantic Canada.After graduating from Acadia University and Dalhousie Law School he established a law practice as a general practitioner and public defender. In 1997 he won the nomination in the Nova Scotia riding of Central-Nova. He then became House Leader and justice critic for the Progressive Conservative party. MacKay won the leadership of the PC Party in 2003 and partnered with Stephen Harper to ultimately achieve a historic agreement that created the Conservative Party of Canada. Under Prime Minister Harper he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of National Defence, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Canada. After 18 years as an MP, he decided not to run in 2015 returning to the profession of law and joined Baker Mackenzie. MacKay and his wife Nazanin Afshin-Jam are the parents of two boys and a girl. MacKay believes that, “No matter the challenge, the values that define us as Conservatives endure — our sense of optimism, our love and loyalty to our country, the willingness to do the hard work so that Canada will be a better place for the generations that follow.”

Leslyn Lewis’s parents immigrated to Canada from Jamaica with their six children, living in East York. Lewis graduated with a Bachelors Degree from the University of Toronto’s Trinity College graduating Magna Cum Laude and then obtained a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University, with a Concentration in Business and Environment from the Schulich School of Business and then a Juris Doctorate from Osgoode Hall Law School and a PhD in Law from Osgoode Hall Law School. She is a mother, lawyer, teacher and community advocate. “I am not a career politicianm,” she says. “I am a mother who has been given much by this great country, and by my hardworking parents before me. I want to help the next generation succeed. I want my children to inherit an even better Canada than the one that has given me so much.”

Derek Sloan is the MP for Hastings-Lennox & Addington in eastern Ontario, and a lawyer, husband to Jennifer, and father of three. He was involved in the first Trinity Western University case in BC in 2015. He attended law school at Queen’s University after owning and operating several small businesses in the Oshawa area. Sloan says, “ the damage to free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience happening in Canada cannot be understated. It’s time for everyone concerned about these issues to stand up and support a candidate who will not just pay lip service but get in the line of fire to defend these freedoms. Our country is under siege by a tide of political correctness that seeks to destroy Canada, and [I know] that the quickest way to lose such a war is to pretend you’re not in one.”

It is an impressive group of candidates. We are fortunate to have them involved and engaged and willing to sacrifice their private lives for public service. But I truly believe Erin O’Toole is the best choice for this time. And I have three reasons for my belief. First, he is a veteran MP having served eight years in Parliament. He is ready to challenge the government on his first day as Leader. There is no waiting period necessary for him to find a seat. He is ready now!

Second, his economic policies are firmly grounded in prudent conservative fiscal and monetary policies. We will need them as we turn our country around from the horrible indebtedness and deficits that existed before Covid due to the Liberal governments reckless spending and is now so much worse because of the pandemic. O’Toole is the captain who can guide the ship of state out of troubled waters.

Third, O’Toole’s views on Canada’s place in the world are based on a foundational faith that we must stand with sister democracies and never pander to tyrannies or tyrants. He knows for example, that our relationship with Israel is not to be bartered with for seats on the Security Council as the Trudeau government shamelessly did recently. He has also unreservedly pledged to move Canada’s Embassy in Israel to that nation’s capitol of Jerusalem. An Erin O’Toole government will stand as ally to and defender of freedom throughout the globe.

For all these reasons I urge you to vote for Erin O’Toole for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

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