Canada’s Conservative MPs voted by secret ballot Wednesday to oust their leader Erin O’Toole, amid infighting over the party’s direction and loss to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s Liberals in snap elections last year.
Forty-five Tory members of parliament endorsed O’Toole’s leadership while 73 voted to replace him in the caucus vote, the main opposition party said in a statement.
The ouster ends a bitter internal feud over O’Toole’s year-and-a-half tenure and forces a third Conservative leadership race since 2015.
An interim leader is now expected to be installed until a new one can be chosen at a party convention.
O’Toole, 49, fell out with a section of the party for tracking too much to the political centre in the last election.
He has faced a barrage of criticism from colleagues for shifting the party’s positions on carbon pricing, balancing the federal budget and firearms restrictions.
Prior to the vote, O’Toole this week denounced his critics, saying the path they wished to take the party was “angry, negative, and extreme.”
“It is a dead end,” he said, adding that “a winning message is one of inclusion, optimism, ideas and hope.”
But he vowed to respect the result of the vote on his leadership.
The Conservatives won 119 seats out of 338 in the September election, down two from a previous ballot in 2019.