Bill Kelly: The Conservatives’ big challenge is to walk a fine line on social issues

Newly minted Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole held his first media conference Tuesday and seemed to address a concern among not just Canadian voters, but nervous Conservatives as well: will O’Toole be influenced and pressured by the social conservative wing of the party?

The SoCons once again played a major role in crowning the newest leader of the party and will likely be expecting O’Toole to adopt some, if not all, of their stringent views on issues like abortion, immigration and LGBTQ2 rights.

Read more: Erin O’Toole defends ‘pro-choice’ stance in pitch for more inclusive party

O’Toole addressed some of that concern when he stated that he was, in fact, pro-choice and supportive of LGBTQ2 rights.

That kind of principled stance was something that his predecessor, Andrew Scheer, was either unwilling or unable to do, and it cost the Conservatives dearly in the last election.

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There are always extreme elements in all political parties and the challenge for the leader is to placate those elements while trying to steer the ship toward the more moderate views held by most Canadians.

Erin O’Toole highlights ‘western alienation’ as Conservative Party’s top priority

Erin O’Toole highlights ‘western alienation’ as Conservative Party’s top priority

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney, the last Conservative prime minister to win back-to-back majority governments, laid out the challenge for the Conservatives the morning after O’Toole’s victory.

He said if the Conservatives hope to win the next election, they have to stop promising tax credits for parents to buy hockey sticks for their kids and start embracing more sensitive and realistic policies on environmental and social issues.

Time will tell if they heed the former prime minister’s advice.

Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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