Erin O'Toole

Erin Michael O'Toole PC CD MP (born January 22, 1973) is a Canadian politician, who is the federal Member of Parliament (MP) for the electoral riding of Durham. A member of the Conservative Party of Canada, he was elected to the House of Commons of Canada in a by-election on November 26, 2012. O'Toole previously served as Minister of Veterans Affairs in 2015. In 2017, O'Toole ran in the Conservative leadership race to replace Stephen Harper, where he finished third.

Erin O'Toole

O'Toole in 2014
Official Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
August 30, 2017
LeaderAndrew Scheer
Preceded byPeter Kent
Minister of Veterans Affairs
In office
January 5, 2015  November 4, 2015
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byJulian Fantino
Succeeded byKent Hehr
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Durham
Assumed office
November 26, 2012
Preceded byBev Oda
Personal details
Erin Michael O'Toole

(1973-01-22) January 22, 1973
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyConservative
ResidenceCourtice, Ontario, Canada
Alma materRoyal Military College (BA)
Dalhousie University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance Canada
Branch/service Air Command
Years of service1991–2003

Since August 2017, O'Toole has been serving as the Official Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs.


O'Toole was born in Montreal, Quebec. Following his mother's death when he was nine years old, his family moved to Port Perry where he attended elementary school. O'Toole and his family later moved a short way to Bowmanville, where he graduated from Bowmanville High School.[2]

In 1991, O'Toole joined the military, and enrolled at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario. O'Toole holds an Honours B.A. in History and Political Science from RMC, and a law degree from Dalhousie University.[2]

He is the son of John O'Toole, who served as the MPP in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for Durham between 1999 and 2014.[3]

O'Toole married his wife Rebecca in 2000. They have a daughter, Mollie, and a son, Jack.[4]

Military career

Following his 1995 graduation from RMC, O'Toole was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), where he attained the rank of second lieutenant.[5] His first posting with the RCAF occurred in Trenton, Ontario, where he was involved in search and rescue operations. O'Toole also spent time at 17 Wing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he completed his training as an air navigator.[5]

In 1997, O'Toole was posted to 12 Wing in Shearwater, Nova Scotia. While serving at this post, O'Toole flew as a tactical navigator on a CH-124 (Sea King) helicopter with 423 Squadron, conducted maritime surveillance, and performed search and rescue and naval support operations.[5] While serving at 12 Wing, O'Toole was promoted to the rank of Captain. O'Toole also received the Canadian Forces Decoration for 12 years of service to Canada.[2] O'Toole was also awarded the Sikorsky Helicopter Rescue Award, for having rescued an injured fisherman at sea. [2]

In 2000, O'Toole completed his service in the military.[5] He transferred to the reserves working as a training officer running flight simulators, while he pursued a law degree.[2]

O'Toole graduated from Dalhousie University with a law degree in 2003, and returned to Ontario. He articled at, and later become a lawyer with, Stikeman Elliott, a leading business law firm located in Toronto. During this time, O'Toole primarily practiced corporate law, insolvency matters and energy regulation.

Between 2006 and 2011, O'Toole served as the Canadian in-house counsel for Procter & Gamble.[6] He served as corporate counsel for the Gillette healthcare, beauty, and paper business groups, provided commercial and regulatory law advice, and was counsel on issues relating to legislation and anti-counterfeiting operations in Canada.

In 2011, O'Toole joined Heenan Blaikie, a law firm where former Canadian Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien and Pierre Trudeau once practiced.[7][8] O'Toole's practice focused on corporate law.

Political career

In May 2012, O'Toole announced his plans to run as the Conservative candidate in the by-election for Durham, following Bev Oda's resignation.[9] On November 26, 2012, O'Toole easily won the by-election for the electoral district of Durham.[10] After spending a few months as a backbencher in the House of Commons, O'Toole was named the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, in September 2013.[11]

In 2014, O'Toole partnered with then-Senator Roméo Dallaire to host the first Samuel Sharpe Memorial Breakfast, in honour of former soldier and Member of Parliament Samuel Simpson Sharpe. Sharpe committed suicide in 1918 following his return home from World War I, leaving his military accomplishments largely ignored due to the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. O'Toole and Dallaire started the memorial breakfast to bring issues of veteran's mental health to the forefront, to recognize those who have served Canada who battle mental health, and to improve access to treatment and resources for soldiers suffering from operational stress injuries.[12] In May 2018, O'Toole introduced a motion to install a plaque commemorating Sharpe on Parliament Hill. The motion to install the plaque passed unanimously.[13]

Minister of Veterans Affairs

On January 5, 2015, O'Toole was appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs, replacing Julian Fantino.[14] O'Toole priortized repairing relations with veterans and addressing the several complaints Canadian veterans had with Fantino.[15]

During his time as Minister of Veterans Affairs, O'Toole was able to convince the veterans to place a lawsuit against the Canadian Government on hold while they entered settlement negotiations.[16] The lawsuit, filed before O'Toole was named Minister, was based on Canadian soldiers arguing that the 2006 overhaul of veteran benefits was discriminatory.[16]

2015 Federal Election

In the 2015 election, O'Toole was re-elected as MP for Durham. He received 45 per cent of the vote, followed by Liberal candidate Corinna Traill at 36%.[17]

Conservative Leadership Campaign

Stephen Harper resigned as Conservative party leader after the party was defeated by the Liberals in the 2015 election. O'Toole announced that he would seek the interim leadership of the Conservative Party.[18] He was defeated by Rona Ambrose, who named O'Toole the Official Opposition Critic for Public Safety.[19]

On October 14, 2016, O'Toole announced his nomination to be a candidate in the 2017 Conservative Party of Canada leadership election.[20] O'Toole received endorsements from 31 MPs, 12 former MPs, 17 provincial politicians, and CANZUK International.[21][22]

O'Toole finished in third place, behind Maxime Bernier and eventual winner Andrew Scheer.[23]

Official Opposition Critic, Foreign Affairs

On August 31, 2018, O'Toole was appointed the Official Opposition Critic for Foreign Affairs.[24]

In 2018, after Patrick Brown resigned over accusations of sexual misconduct, O'Toole considered entering the Ontario PC leadership election race.[25] However, O'Toole passed on the opportunity, instead endorsing and supporting Christine Elliott.[26]

Awards and recognition

In 2012, O'Toole was awarded the Christopher J. Coulter Young Alumnus Award by Dalhousie University, for his notable achievements and dedication to community service.[27]

In 2012, O'Toole was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.[28]

Electoral Record

2015 Canadian federal election: Durham
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
ConservativeErin O'Toole28,96745.13−10.04$117,180.89
LiberalCorinna Traill22,94935.75+20.22$51,458.76
New DemocraticDerek Spence10,28916.03−7.72$21,240.10
GreenStacey Leadbetter1,6162.52−2.04$109.90
Christian HeritageAndrew Moriarity3640.57$4,224.95
Total valid votes/Expense limit 64,185100.00 $236,417.96
Total rejected ballots 2330.36
Turnout 64,41868.93
Eligible voters 93,455
Conservative hold Swing -15.13
Source: Elections Canada[29][30][31]
Canadian federal by-election, November 26, 2012: Durham
Resignation of Bev Oda
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
ConservativeErin O'Toole17,28050.72−3.83$95,331
New DemocraticLarry O'Connor8,94626.26+5.16$96,257
LiberalGrant Humes5,88717.28−0.57$91,946
GreenVirginia Ervin1,3864.07−1.32$742
Christian HeritageAndrew Moriarity4371.28+0.49$4,379
OnlineMichael Nicula1320.39$1,080
Total valid votes 34,068 100.00
Total rejected ballots 115
Turnout 34,18335.87
Eligible voters 95,296
Conservative hold Swing −8.99
Source: "November 26, 2012 By-elections". Elections Canada. November 27, 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012.


  1. "Conservatives hang on to Oda's Durham riding". Toronto Sun, November 26, 2012.
  2. van Bilsen, Jonathan. "The Story Behind The Person - Erin O'Toole". The Standard Newspaper. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  3. "Bay Street lawyer eyes Bev Oda's seat". The Globe and Mail, July 5, 2012.
  4. Pessian, Parvaneh. "Durham MP Erin O'Toole launches Conservative leadership bid in Bowmanville". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  5. Levitz, Stephanie. "Five things to know about new veterans Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  6. "CPC Interview Series: Erin O'Toole". The Canadian-Muslim Vote. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  7. "Heenan Blaikie lawyer takes aim at replacing Bev Oda in Parliament". Precedent. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  8. Gray, Jeff. "The inside story of Heenan Blaikie's frantic final days". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  9. Erman, Boyd. "Bay Street lawyer eyes Bev Oda's seat". The Globe and Mail.
  10. Hall, Chris. "Erin O'Toole thoroughly dominates Durham".
  11. "Parliamentary Roles - Erin O'Toole". Parliament of Canada.
  12. Dillon, Moya. "Durham MP Erin O'Toole revives legacy of Zephyr war vet Samuel Sharpe".
  13. "100 years after his death, 'forgotten' officer to be commemorated on Hill". CBC News.
  14. "PM Announces Change to the Ministry" Archived 2015-01-05 at the Wayback Machine January 5, 2015
  15. Long, Jamie. "Erin O'Toole, veterans affairs minister, moves to address complaints". CBC News.
  16. Brewster, Murray. "Afghan vets lawsuit over benefits on hold as Tories search for settlement". CBC News.
  17. "Durham Riding stays blue with Erin O'Toole: 2015 federal election results".
  18. "Erin O'Toole, ex-Veterans Affair minister, to seek Conservative interim leadership". CBC News.
  19. Harris, Kathleen. "Rona Ambrose chosen as interim Conservative leader". CBC News.
  20. Pessian, Parvaneh. "Durham MP Erin O'Toole launches Conservative leadership bid in Bowmanville".
  22. Skinner, James. "Pro-CANZUK Leader Meets With CANZUK International". Retrieved Oct 22, 2019.
  23. "Conservative Leadership: The Results". CPAC. May 29, 2017. Retrieved Oct 22, 2019.
  24. O'Meara, Jennifer. "O'Toole named Conservative shadow minister for foreign affairs".
  25. Lunn, Susan; Tasker, John. "Conservative MP Erin O'Toole considering run for Ontario PC leadership". CBC News.
  26. Fitzpatrick, Meagan. "Erin O'Toole takes pass on Ontario PC leadership, endorses Christine Elliott". CBC News.
  27. Weeren, Marie. "Alumni Association Awards celebrate outstanding alumni". Dalhousie University. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  28. General, Office of the Secretary to the Governor. "Erin O'Toole, M.P." The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved Oct 22, 2019.
  29. Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Durham, 30 September 2015
  30. Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates Archived August 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  31. "Election Night Results". Elections Canada. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
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