While the other frontrunner, Peter MacKay, appears intent on juggernauting his way through the opposition, relying on name recognition and a long resume, O’Toole is running a campaign with policies and promises hand-crafted to appeal to — and provoke reactions from — subsets of the Conservative base.
The question for the party is whether this dynamic is likely to produce the kind of “modernized” Conservative movement O’Toole and so many others have said is necessary to win back power.
Many conservatives had hoped that this race would be about competing visions for the party’s future. But with Rona Ambrose, Jean Charest, Pierre Poilievre and John Baird all out, it’s not shaping up that way.
Instead, with the leadership field now likely set, a very different kind of race has emerged: MacKay largely avoiding questions of vision and O’Toole offering a micro-targeted grab-bag of policy from which a vision can be hard to discern.