Former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole quitting federal politics

Former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole quitting federal politics

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OTTAWA—Former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is quitting federal politics.

O’Toole, pushed out as leader by his own MPs last year, said he will resign his seat as MP for Durham at the end of the spring session of Parliament.

O’Toole was first elected in 2012 under the last Conservative government, in a byelection to replace a cabinet minister who had quit during a spending scandal.

He briefly served as veterans affairs minister and was credited as calming the waters of a turbulent file in part thanks to his own past service in the military.

He first ran for party leader in the contest to replace Stephen Harper, but lost to Andrew Scheer.

He made a second attempt in party’s 2020 leadership race, and beat out party stalwart Peter MacKay for the top job.

But his time at the top was marred by myriad pressure points between his MPs and the broader grassroots.

His failure to form government in the 2021 election — a loss he has chalked up to the Liberals’ decision to politicize vaccines but also some degree of foreign interference — saw those tensions begin to mount.

He was ultimately voted out by MPs in February 2022.

In a statement early Friday morning, he called working in politics the honour of a lifetime, and said he remains a proud Conservative who believes the party will one day return to power.

Stephanie Levitz is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @StephanieLevitz

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