Rivers: My Conversation with the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada


Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 6th, 2021


“I’ll slash funding for English TV and CBC News Network, and end funding for digital news.”

(Erin O’Toole – Feb 14, 2020)

He said it plain – no love wasted for the national broadcaster, even on Valentine’s Day.

Otoole hands out

Erin O’Toole – Defeated Andrew Scheer in the leadership contest – now he wants to form a government.

There were issues which I really wanted Erin O’Toole to clarify for me when I set out to request our interview. First, O’Toole has promised that his climate change plan would deliver faster carbon emission reductions than Mr. Trudeau’s plan. And he would do it without the provision of a carbon tax, which would be relegated to the dustbin in an O’Toole government. And he’d do all this while pushing for more oil pipelines and oil.

So what and where is it – this magic plan? Well it’s still a secret. It’s still being developed. It probably has to stay that way, until he becomes PM, so the NDP don’t take credit for inventing it should the Liberals implement it. The mind boggles.

Another issue is Mr. O’Toole’s preoccupation with firearms. It’s true he spent a good part of his life in the military, but he ended up as a flight navigator. You’d think he’d know more about a compass than a gun, so perhaps this is just pistol envy. Still he has made this a major plank in his platform.

He points out that the biggest trouble with today’s gun control is the lack of public education about guns. And then in one breath he declares that Canada’s firearms control system actually works really well, and efficiently.

And then in the next breath says that his top priority would be to scrap the existing Firearms Act. And he’d cancel the requirement for vendors to keep a record of who purchased guns. And while he was at it he’d also kill the legislation the Liberals recently introduced banning assault rifles, high capacity ammunition magazines and silencers.

otoole scratching head

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole figuring it out

That would mean potentially allowing powerful military-type weapons systems including the M16, AR-10, AR-15 and M4 firearms, onto our streets, or at least our gun cupboards. He has received an A grading by the lobbyist outfit CCFR (Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights).

O’Toole has gone after the Trudeau government for not doing more to stop the smuggling of firearms across the US border. And he may have the answer. Just make these weapons legal here as well, and smuggling would be unnecessary.

A third of his Tory membership are COVID action deniers. Or at least they want the governments to stop restricting economic activity and get back to normal, whatever that can be when this epidemic is killing our senior citizens and threatening to spread like wildfire. For example, Flamborough Glanbrook MP David Sweet, having himself come back, quilt-free, from a foreign vacation, says let it rip.

O”Toole himself is ignoring this growing chorus of voices around him who are telling him to be like Texas. You have to die from something anyway, right? But it does take a lot of courage to go after Trudeau for not doing enough to keep the virus out, when a sizeable chunk of his membership is saying let it be.

R B Bennett

It was the R. B. Bennet, a Conservative government that formed the CBC

Finally what is it with O’Toole’s promise to defund the CBC? It is a little difficult to appreciate why the federal Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has such a long standing animosity against Canada’s national broadcaster. After all, the CBC was a service originally initiated back in 1932 by R.B. Bennet, a conservative PM.

One might think the Tories object to the cost of the annual subsidy paid to the CBC, some $1.2 billion a year. But a sizeable subsidy is annually paid out to the other Canadian broadcasters, private though they are. And if it’s about the cost, why squash the English television and digital news services, ironically the only part of the corporation which brings in advertising dollars? It may actually cost more to kill the CBC than to keep it intact.

cbc The National

CBC – the country’s most trusted news source.

No question the other networks wouldn’t mind seeing the CBC gone. It’s still competition, even though they already have a much greater audience. But the CBC/Radio Canada is the most trusted news media in the country. And we are in the midst of a brave new world of fake news. One only needs to look south of the border and the role fake news played in the assault on the US Capitol.

In fact over 80% of Canadians support our national broadcaster and want to see the CBC continue and even expand its broadcasting agenda. So why would someone running for prime minister want to unstick the glue that in many ways keeps us all together, including our remote indigenous population and Francophone Canada.

otoole attacking

Erin O’Toole – knows how to fight back.

We do know that this contempt the Tories harbour for the national broadcaster goes back to the troubled relationship Mr Harper had with the media, and the CBC in particular. He even tried to set up his own news system and in the end the party turned to the right wing extremist paper, The Rebel. In fact a former director of the Rebel ended up running Andrew Scheer’s campaign.

Erin O’Toole, after being criticized for his party’s association with The Rebel, swore off giving any more interviews to that right wing rag. He must have sworn off the Burlington Gazette as well, because he and his office ignored my requests for an interview. I got an immediate automatic email thanking me for contacting him, both times, but then it was crickets. So we didn’t really have a discussion, but I’m still waiting for that phone to ring.

Rivers hand to face


Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.


Background links:

Let the Pandemic Roll –    David Sweet –     Recovery Plans

Trust in the Media –     Polling –     Anti-Choice –

The Rebel –    Climate Plan –     CCFR

O’Toole on Guns –     CBC –     CBC Public Support

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22 comments to Rivers: My Conversation with the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

  • Joseph A Gaetan

    A total waste of keyboarding.

  • William Boyd

    Thank you, Ray, for my morning chuckle. Your “pistol envy” did the trick.

    Bill in Virginia

  • g.fraser

    “Rivers: My Conversation with the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada”

    Great Title. I read it all and then at the end you disclose that this interview occurred in your head. Like an auditory hallucination or Fake news from a Fox Journalist.

    Given that, there is much about Mr. O’Toole and more IMPORTANTLY, the social-conservative delegates that are undermining the Conservative beliefs and indirectly democracy, that I find worrisome. Peter MacKay would have been a worthy Liberal Conservative leader. He lost because of the radical conservative delegates. MacKay should have known better.

    I grew up with firearms but I believe that military assault weapons, high capacity ammunition magazines and silencers should be banned. I believe that all long guns and handguns should be registered and legally owned by licensed individuals. But please, Trudeau has done NOTHING about the illegally owned handguns as indicated by Mr Wooster above. The majority of handgun crime being done in Canada is not by Legal gun owners. The horrendous mass murder last year in Nova Scotia was with weapons illegally obtained. Where is the mandatory & severe Prison sentences for handgun smugglers, individuals possessing illegal handguns and individuals using handguns in crime??

    I like the CBC but it was originally founded to counter the growing influence of American on Canadian airwaves. In many parts of Canada it was the only television or radio available. It was undeniably a key means of getting information out from coast-to-coast, and held great cultural value in terms of defining Canada a country. BUT that was then and this is today. A re-think on CBC funding enlight of other competitive Canadian media companies should be in order. Competition is good for creativity.

    As for your example of Flamborough Glanbrook MP idiot David Sweet, how many Liberals also left the Canada during the Covid, no matter the reason??

    For now, let us leave the atrocious Liberal handling of the Covid crisis and the vaccine roll-out for another Fake news story. The same for the ‘WE’ Scandal.

    But, what do you say about today’s G&M article:
    Trudeau warns China of ‘possible consequences’ over treatment of Uyghurs.

    This is hypocrisy at its finest. Our Prime Minister refused, and in fact, did not show up for a vote in the House of Commons calling on the government to declare China’s actions against the Uyghurs a genocide. Furthermore, his hand picked, independently thinking Cabinet did not show up either.

    Now JT is stomping his feet because the World has made a statement about this genocide and he wants the World to see he is wearing his big boy pants.

    Canada use to be a country of Morales and Ethics. We were the Blue Helmets, we were the first to enlist for the right reasons, the right causes. Now, our political parties are facades to the political power elite and democracy is clouded by a shadow of political narcissism.

    Ray, when you interview PM Trudeau, make sure to mention about his wonderful coiffed mane.


  • Carol Victor

    Mr. Wooster…Sloan was kicked out long after he made his negative mark. and only after public backlash, the carbon tax has been challenged by Conservative provincial govts so how will we ever know how well it could could help to reduce emissions, court case after court case….a waste of time and money….there are no fresh ideas with Cinservatives just criticism. Yes I do support liberal ideasl!!! I fully support LGBT rights, abortion rights for women, a carbon tax, immigration etc.
    The difference between the two parties is one that is old school and backward vs the Liberals who are progressive and in tune with reality..

    • Phillip Wooster

      Carol, I understand you’re a Liberal but facts are facts. Yes, the carbon tax has been challenged by 4 conservative governments and joined in that challenge by Quebec on the basis that the federal carbon tax intrudes into matters of provincial jurisdiction–this is an issue of constitutional law. But meanwhile, the carbon tax has be in effect and has little impact on carbon emissions in Canada.

      I’m glad you support LGBT and abortion rights. I support them also and Erin O’Toole has been quite unequivocal in his support for them. Yes, there are a relatively minor group of social conservatives who do hold differing views, but they are not indicative of Conservative policy.

      You might be interested in knowing that I too support a carbon tax but I do so for political reasons. The Liberals use it as a wedge issue. I believe the Conservative Party should adopt it and weaponize it against the Liberals–eliminate the HST on the tax, require the carbon tax to be itemized on gasoline receipts to allow taxpayers to itemize the carbon tax as a FULL credit on their tax returns (I hope you realize that the Liberal fantasy that you get back more than you pay is just that–a fantasy. For most working families with less than 2 children, the DIRECT carbon taxes paid are more than the tax credit of the Liberals) and lastly I’d allow businesses to claim a tax credit on their carbon taxes to eliminate the upward pressure on prices (currently costing you several hundred dollars a year). These steps would make the carbon tax truly revenue neutral.

      And I support immigration–LEGAL immigration based on the economic needs of Canada and the ability of the Canadian economy to integrate these immigrants. Are you aware that of the Liberals’ proposed immigration targets of 400,000 per year only 60% fall into the economic category?

      “Liberals are progressive and in tune with reality”. Really? Is that why Canada’s national debt is spiralling out of control? Is that why private sector investment has been falling over the past 6 years? Is corruption and ethics violations really progressive?

      • David Barker


        I’m with Rob n. You are drunk on Tory Kool-Aid and nothing will change your view. So I will not waste time and energy.

        • Phillip Wooster

          Is being drunk on Tory Kool-Aid worse that wearing Liberal blinders?

          • David Barker

            Not at all. Just different. Just pointing out you exhibit the same characteristics that you scornful “accuse” others.

  • Hans Jacobs

    While Justin Trudeau’s performance has been disappointing in many ways, IMO the CPC led by O’Toole would not be an improvement.

    • David Barker

      I may be naive, and many here will say so, but I believe Trudeau, who has made many silly mistakes, does have the Country’s and its redisents’ best interests at heart. I do not feel the same about O’Toole or any of the Tory mouthpieces. They seem to be out just for themselves and their far right supporters. JIMO.

      Apologies if anyone thinks I’m hijacking this comment section


  • This should actually be quite frightening to those of us south of the border. With a simple Constitutional Amendment, to enable foreign born to run for President, O’Toole would easily walk into the Republican nomination for President and recapture the crazies who are awakening from their Trump wet dream. Please find a way to keep him there, sedated if necessary.

  • Carol Victor

    With no viable green energy plan, no ban on assault weapons, their support for far right candidates, and their on-going negative and non constructive criticism of the current government, your interview would have been a waste of time..
    This is not the USA thank goodness for that.

    • Phillip Wooster

      Carol, you’ve been totally indoctrinated with Liberal propaganda. Do the Liberals have a viable green energy plan? The data todate suggests that they have made little/no progress on reducing carbon emissions; they have however cut Canadians disposable incomes and raised their cost of living–a trend that will escalate over the next several years if Trudeau gets the chance since he has already broken his promise in 2019 not to raise carbon taxes above $50 per tonne. If you want to measure the ineffectiveness of carbon taxes in the Canadian context let’s look at the poster child for carbon taxation in Canada–BC. In 2007, BC’s introduced its carbon tax with the stated goal of reducing total carbon emissions in that province; by January 2020, carbon emissions were right where they were in 2007. Epic fail!!!!

      Your Liberals and Trudeau, instituted no ban on assault weapons–that was done was back in 1976. What they banned were “assault-style weapons” owned legally. However, your Liberals did nothing about illegally owned handguns, even going so far as to propose eliminating minimum sentences for the criminals using them. Who do you think is shooting up Toronto? Legal gun owners that the Liberals targeted or criminals that they give a free pass to? Feel safer????

      By the way, please specify which far right candidates O’Toole has been supporting? He’s already booted one out of caucus.

      Opposition parties should criticize governments who are involved in as much corruption, lies and incompetence as the federal Liberals. But I do agree with one thing–the Conservatives do need to start putting forward constructive policy options for the electorate to discuss.

      • David Barker

        At the risk of being called a hijacker, Wooster, the comments you direct towards the likes of me, and Carol could very well be directed at you for your entrenched views. Please be less aggressive e I your vocabulary and tone. I will not argue the points you’ve raised in deference to others here.

      • Rob n

        Characterizing Carol as being ‘totally indoctrinated’ is an outstanding leap from her four point, two sentence statement.

        The same could be said about you, on a conservative agenda, based on your four paragraph rant with overly emphatic punctuation and attempts at irony. You’ve had way too much Kool-aid to see issues without a bias. Adding your cheap assault on another reader / commenter, you may be characterized as a trump supporter! OMG!

        Face the facts, the Conservatives are up a creek without a paddle. No policies to improve the lives of a majority of Canadians equals no votes.

  • David Barker

    Nicely written and presented.

    The unveiling of that environmental plan has been a long time coming. Scheer promised it for ever, but never delivered. Maybe there is no plan.

    The Tory party is anti anything the Liberal party puts forward, no matter how sensible or practical it might be. It’s OK to criticize. In fact it’s good to criticize. But what is really saf though is that the Tories never ever offer an alternative policy. It’s just negative, negative, negative. Never a positive comment. Pierre Poitier is the epitome of this.

    The Tories’ hate of the CBC is a reflection of the culture ingrained into the party by Harper. A culture of hate and desire to crush anyone or anything that voices an adverse opinion to theirs.

    I was a strong Tory supporter in the Mulroney days. A time when it was a kinder, gentler more inclusive, more reasonable and balanced party.

    • Phillip Wooster

      Mr. Barker, why is it that you always try proclaim your “moral superiority” by claiming that you are a reformed Tory who saw the light? Or is it just a ploy to give your comments greater credibility? On both scores, it is an epic FAIL. No Conservative–even one who is disillusioned with the current party could support the Trudeau record of lies, corruption, and economic & fiscal incompetence.

      Your one comment is quite instructive on the major challenge facing the Conservative and that is poor communications. Scheer did in fact release an environmental plan in the election that focused on technological innovation, business incentives to reduce greenhouse gases and reduction of coal on an international level; it was far superior to the ineffective Trudeau focus on carbon (revenue) taxes that increase the cost of living, reduce disposable incomes (despite the myth that you get back more than you pay) and have done little or nothing to reduce carbon emissions. But Scheer’s failure was not one of policy–it was communication. The plan should have been released and sold to the Canadian public long before the election; this is true today. I would agree that the Conservatives have to put forth a platform–a positive vision for Canada. And from the standpoint of election strategy, it is critical to release these policies well ahead of the election–the Liberal War Room proved itself quite adept in the last election of attacking these policies when they were released late and branded them effectively and negatively.

      • David Barker


        ‘Mr. Barker, why is it that you always try proclaim your “moral superiority” ‘

        I’m sorry that you misinterpret my meaning. I’m not trying to claim any sort of superiority. What I am is a slightly right of centre voter. The Liberal party presently is closer to my philosophies than I feel the Tory party, which from my point of view regrettably move hard right after Mulroney and Campbell.

        ‘No Conservative–even one who is disillusioned with the current party could support the Trudeau record of lies, corruption, and economic & fiscal incompetence..’

        That is your opinion; one to which you are entitled. Obviously it is not 100% correct. Me being an example.

        I voted for and supported Mulroney, Campbell and Harper (first two times). Mulroney and Harper had way more scandals (well documented https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_scandals_in_Canada), many, many lies, and were more corrupt. One might say the same thing you said to me to any Tory supporter about their party.

        We are diametrically opposed. So be it. I wish you well.

    • Hans Jacobs

      Since the takeover by the Reform party, the Conservatives have lost any appeal that they had, IMO.

  • Don Fletcher

    That’s odd. This “Rivers: My conversation with …” titled article is really only what Ray thinks about Erin O’Toole without ever having had a conversation. We only learn this in the last few sentences, though! And here I thought Ray only suffered from cognitive dissonance.

  • Fred

    They don’t want to explain their plan, just claim it is better. They same thing Ford did, complain about incumbents, say they have a better plan. Yet there is no proof they have a plan for anything except their tired outdated ideology. Which is evident with the Ford government agenda. They can’t win on facts.