O’Toole’s campaign chair says holding Trudeau to a minority would be a win for the Conservatives

The Erin O’Toole campaign would consider it a win if they can hold the Liberals to a minority government in today’s federal election.Whether the Conservative caucus, party activists — and potential leadership hopefuls — will agree with that is an open question.In the final hours of Canada’s 44th federal election, O’Toole’s campaign chair and two other senior campaign sources independently told the Star they would consider it a win if Trudeau ws held to a minority. The two sources were not cleared to speak publicly, but Walied Soliman, O’Toole’s campaign chair, said that “even without a plurality (of seats) today, we will have achieved our objective.”“The victory comes in advancing the dialogue with Canadians. At the start of this race, nobody would’ve expected that we’d be in a knife fight in strongly-held Liberal ridings. And today we are. And we are very proud of Erin O’Toole and the incredible campaign that has been run here.”“And as far as we’re concerned, we’ve won by simply advancing that dialogue and I think caucus members and candidates recognize that.”The Conservatives are by no means conceding the election before the first polls close. Seven Conservative sources, some on O’Toole’s campaign and others watching from the sidelines, told the Star over the last 24 hours that the race remains tight — especially in suburban and exurban Ontario ridings the Conservatives need to have any hope of forming government.It is unclear how a number of variables — the rise of the People’s Party of Canada, the collapse of the Green party’s vote, the potential for long lines at fewer polling places, and the ongoing fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic — will impact the vote.But the prepositioning by the O’Toole campaign that a return to Official Opposition would be a win is significant. Former leader Andrew Scheer won the popular vote in 2019, increased the Conservatives’ seat count, and reduced Trudeau to a minority government. He was still shown the door, in part because of a poor showing in Eastern Canada and Ontario.Why would limiting Trudeau to a minority government be a disappointing loss for Scheer but a win for O’Toole? For those in O’Toole’s camp, it’s because Conservatives viewed 2019 as Scheer’s to lose, while few expected O’Toole to waltz to victory with the Liberals riding high in the polls.But the O’Toole camp clearly understands that anything short of victory would mean the potential for challenges to his leadership.One campaign source told the Star Friday night that they believe a handful of people are already organizing for a potential leadership contest — which would be the party’s third in five years.Tories outside the campaign deny that suggestion.After a final push through the GTA in the dying days of the campaign, O’Toole will watch results come in at a hockey rink in Oshawa.“Erin is very excited about this evening. He know he has run a highly professional and respectful campaign. And regardless of the outcome, whether he wins a minority or he simply increases his seat count, he knows that this is the first step in a continuing dialogue and earning the trust of Canadians,” Soliman said.“And I know that he and his family are absolutely committed to that journey.”Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier

O’Toole’s campaign chair says holding Trudeau to a minority would be a win for the Conservatives

The Erin O’Toole campaign would consider it a win if they can hold the Liberals to a minority government in today’s federal election.

Whether the Conservative caucus, party activists — and potential leadership hopefuls — will agree with that is an open question.

In the final hours of Canada’s 44th federal election, O’Toole’s campaign chair and two other senior campaign sources independently told the Star they would consider it a win if Trudeau ws held to a minority. The two sources were not cleared to speak publicly, but Walied Soliman, O’Toole’s campaign chair, said that “even without a plurality (of seats) today, we will have achieved our objective.”

“The victory comes in advancing the dialogue with Canadians. At the start of this race, nobody would’ve expected that we’d be in a knife fight in strongly-held Liberal ridings. And today we are. And we are very proud of Erin O’Toole and the incredible campaign that has been run here.”

“And as far as we’re concerned, we’ve won by simply advancing that dialogue and I think caucus members and candidates recognize that.”

The Conservatives are by no means conceding the election before the first polls close. Seven Conservative sources, some on O’Toole’s campaign and others watching from the sidelines, told the Star over the last 24 hours that the race remains tight — especially in suburban and exurban Ontario ridings the Conservatives need to have any hope of forming government.

It is unclear how a number of variables — the rise of the People’s Party of Canada, the collapse of the Green party’s vote, the potential for long lines at fewer polling places, and the ongoing fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic — will impact the vote.

But the prepositioning by the O’Toole campaign that a return to Official Opposition would be a win is significant.

Former leader Andrew Scheer won the popular vote in 2019, increased the Conservatives’ seat count, and reduced Trudeau to a minority government. He was still shown the door, in part because of a poor showing in Eastern Canada and Ontario.

Why would limiting Trudeau to a minority government be a disappointing loss for Scheer but a win for O’Toole? For those in O’Toole’s camp, it’s because Conservatives viewed 2019 as Scheer’s to lose, while few expected O’Toole to waltz to victory with the Liberals riding high in the polls.

But the O’Toole camp clearly understands that anything short of victory would mean the potential for challenges to his leadership.

One campaign source told the Star Friday night that they believe a handful of people are already organizing for a potential leadership contest — which would be the party’s third in five years.

Tories outside the campaign deny that suggestion.

After a final push through the GTA in the dying days of the campaign, O’Toole will watch results come in at a hockey rink in Oshawa.

“Erin is very excited about this evening. He know he has run a highly professional and respectful campaign. And regardless of the outcome, whether he wins a minority or he simply increases his seat count, he knows that this is the first step in a continuing dialogue and earning the trust of Canadians,” Soliman said.

“And I know that he and his family are absolutely committed to that journey.”

Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Restaurants, bars, gyms prepare for backlash when vaccine passports kick in Wednesday

Business owners are nervously awaiting the implementation of Ontario’s vaccine certification system, steeling themselves for logistical difficulties, extra costs and potential altercations with customers. The vaccine certification system will come into effect Sept. 22, although the province’s planned app won’t be in action for another month. Customers going to a gym, restaurant and a number of other non-essential venues will be required to show proof of vaccination — and proof they received their second dose at least 14 days earlier — on paper or on their phone, or provide an exemption document written by a doctor or registered nurse.The mandate will be harder to implement for some businesses than others, depending on the number of customers they see daily.Victoria Wickett, co-owner of Bomb Fitness, said it will be easier for client-based businesses like hers to deal with the vaccine certification mandate than restaurants, for example, which deal with a much higher volume of people.But navigating the vaccine certification system is “still a huge expense,” said Wickett.She thinks the government should have waited until the app was ready before implementing the vaccine mandate. “It’s a lot on our plate to ask for this,” she said. “It would have been nice if it was made a little bit easier.Ontario is building its own app in-house, an approach that has garnered some criticism. For the restaurant industry, the vaccine certification system is creating a lot of stress before it has even begun. The policy applies to all restaurants, bars and clubs, with the exception of outdoor patio areas, takeout and delivery.James Rilett, vice-president of Central Canada for Restaurants Canada, said there are a lot of unknowns for Ontario restaurateurs as Wednesday draws closer.“It’s just making people nervous,” he said, adding that restaurants are already getting backlash from people making reservations for later in the week, and are nervous about the online and in-person conflict they and their staff may have to deal with. Business owners are “pulling their hair out,” said Rilett.Not only will verifying the vaccine certificates be logistically difficult, restaurant owners are even more concerned about verifying exemptions. Rilett is convinced staff will encounter both fake vaccine certificates and fake exemption notes. Larry Isaacs, president of the Firkin Group of Pubs, doesn’t understand why the government didn’t wait until an app was available instead of making businesses manually check customers’ proof of vaccination or exemption notes.“We are not equipped to handle doctor’s notes,” said Isaacs. “This is ridiculous. … How are we supposed to determine if your doctor’s note is valid or (a) fraud?”Isaacs said his staff are already dealing with frustrated and angry customers. Julie Kwiecinski, director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said business owners are concerned about the safety of their employees and themselves.“Many of them feel like the government is downloading the responsibility of ensuring people are vaccinated to businesses,” she said.Kwiecinski said simple government guidance, such as a “triage” sheet outlining how to deal with escalating customer situations, would go a long way to helping businesses and their employees deal with the unknowns to come. She said many business owners are concerned about incurring fines — both individuals and businesses can be fined for not complying with the rules — and she worries that some businesses could get in trouble by accident, such as if they fail to spot a fake vaccine exemption. Some business owners are hiring security staff to take care of the checking for them, said Rilett, so that restaurant staff aren’t on the front lines. Kwiecinski said businesses need clearer rules to avoid confusion, unnecessary fines and red tape as the vaccine certification system is put in place. Businesses with repeat clients, such as gyms or fitness studios, should be permitted to check a client’s vaccine certification just once, rather than each time they enter, Kwiecinski said. While the regulations don’t clearly address this issue, a Ministry of Health questions and answers document responding to this issue states that patrons must provide proof at point of entry, and that businesses can’t retain any information, including vaccination details provided by the patron. Rilett said the province’s app, scheduled to be implemented in another month, sounds like an easier and more secure way to go about vaccine certification. He thinks the government should have adopted another province’s app instead of making its own. Wickett said she’s not against mandating vaccines, but said the rollout in Ontario is “not ideal.”“I think it does add a level of reassurance for our members, so I don’t see it as a bad thing,” she said. “But ... the implementation of it is difficult.”Rosa Saba is a Toronto-based business reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twit

Restaurants, bars, gyms prepare for backlash when vaccine passports kick in Wednesday

Business owners are nervously awaiting the implementation of Ontario’s vaccine certification system, steeling themselves for logistical difficulties, extra costs and potential altercations with customers.

The vaccine certification system will come into effect Sept. 22, although the province’s planned app won’t be in action for another month. Customers going to a gym, restaurant and a number of other non-essential venues will be required to show proof of vaccination — and proof they received their second dose at least 14 days earlier — on paper or on their phone, or provide an exemption document written by a doctor or registered nurse.

The mandate will be harder to implement for some businesses than others, depending on the number of customers they see daily.

Victoria Wickett, co-owner of Bomb Fitness, said it will be easier for client-based businesses like hers to deal with the vaccine certification mandate than restaurants, for example, which deal with a much higher volume of people.

But navigating the vaccine certification system is “still a huge expense,” said Wickett.

She thinks the government should have waited until the app was ready before implementing the vaccine mandate.

“It’s a lot on our plate to ask for this,” she said. “It would have been nice if it was made a little bit easier.

Ontario is building its own app in-house, an approach that has garnered some criticism.

For the restaurant industry, the vaccine certification system is creating a lot of stress before it has even begun. The policy applies to all restaurants, bars and clubs, with the exception of outdoor patio areas, takeout and delivery.

James Rilett, vice-president of Central Canada for Restaurants Canada, said there are a lot of unknowns for Ontario restaurateurs as Wednesday draws closer.

“It’s just making people nervous,” he said, adding that restaurants are already getting backlash from people making reservations for later in the week, and are nervous about the online and in-person conflict they and their staff may have to deal with.

Business owners are “pulling their hair out,” said Rilett.

Not only will verifying the vaccine certificates be logistically difficult, restaurant owners are even more concerned about verifying exemptions. Rilett is convinced staff will encounter both fake vaccine certificates and fake exemption notes.

Larry Isaacs, president of the Firkin Group of Pubs, doesn’t understand why the government didn’t wait until an app was available instead of making businesses manually check customers’ proof of vaccination or exemption notes.

“We are not equipped to handle doctor’s notes,” said Isaacs. “This is ridiculous. … How are we supposed to determine if your doctor’s note is valid or (a) fraud?”

Isaacs said his staff are already dealing with frustrated and angry customers.

Julie Kwiecinski, director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said business owners are concerned about the safety of their employees and themselves.

“Many of them feel like the government is downloading the responsibility of ensuring people are vaccinated to businesses,” she said.

Kwiecinski said simple government guidance, such as a “triage” sheet outlining how to deal with escalating customer situations, would go a long way to helping businesses and their employees deal with the unknowns to come.

She said many business owners are concerned about incurring fines — both individuals and businesses can be fined for not complying with the rules — and she worries that some businesses could get in trouble by accident, such as if they fail to spot a fake vaccine exemption.

Some business owners are hiring security staff to take care of the checking for them, said Rilett, so that restaurant staff aren’t on the front lines.

Kwiecinski said businesses need clearer rules to avoid confusion, unnecessary fines and red tape as the vaccine certification system is put in place.

Businesses with repeat clients, such as gyms or fitness studios, should be permitted to check a client’s vaccine certification just once, rather than each time they enter, Kwiecinski said.

While the regulations don’t clearly address this issue, a Ministry of Health questions and answers document responding to this issue states that patrons must provide proof at point of entry, and that businesses can’t retain any information, including vaccination details provided by the patron.

Rilett said the province’s app, scheduled to be implemented in another month, sounds like an easier and more secure way to go about vaccine certification. He thinks the government should have adopted another province’s app instead of making its own.

Wickett said she’s not against mandating vaccines, but said the rollout in Ontario is “not ideal.”

“I think it does add a level of reassurance for our members, so I don’t see it as a bad thing,” she said. “But ... the implementation of it is difficult.”

Rosa Saba is a Toronto-based business reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rosajsaba

Source : Toronto Star More   

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