GIMLI — Less than a day after Erin O'Toole won the leadership position for the Conservative party of Canada, Manitoba's MPs gathered to prepare for a potential election and to discuss party policies and topics like reconciliation and drug use.

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GIMLI — Less than a day after Erin O'Toole won the leadership position for the Conservative party of Canada, Manitoba's MPs gathered to prepare for a potential election and to discuss party policies and topics like reconciliation and drug use.

The caucus, made up of seven MPs and a senator, met at Lakeview Gimli Resort on Monday. It was the group's first meeting since COVID-19 hit Canada.

Larry Maguire (Brandon–Souris) and Raquel Dancho (Kildonan–St. Paul) were all smiles in one of the resort's conference rooms Monday afternoon. Both had backed O'Toole as he campaigned to be party leader.

O'Toole took the top spot after three rounds of counted votes.

"I have to say... Early this morning, when Erin O'Toole won, was the first time in five months that I really felt a sense of great optimism for the world," Dancho said.

One reason she endorsed him was because of his savvy social media presence, she said.

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Conservative MP Raquel Dancho was at the Manitoba Conservative Caucus meeting in Gimli to talk about ongoing issues in the province and meet with local leaders.</p>

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Conservative MP Raquel Dancho was at the Manitoba Conservative Caucus meeting in Gimli to talk about ongoing issues in the province and meet with local leaders.

"To me that spoke to his vision of the future, that he wants to reach out, that he wants to bring in younger Canadians," Dancho said.

Many of the round one votes in Winnipeg went to MacKay. However, Dancho and Maguire said O’Toole did well in urban areas in their own ridings. They said he attracts conservatives from across the spectrum.

"My riding, for example, he came in first place," Dancho said. "We have strong social conservatives... Strong fiscal conservatives, and frankly, moderate conservatives."

Maguire said he expected the leadership race to be tight.

"There is only one way to beat Mr. Trudeau, and that's to stick together," Maguire said, adding that Trudeau seems elitist to many Canadians and that O'Toole can win trust by being relatable.

MP James Bezan (Selkirk – Interlake – Eastman) was MacKay's campaign head in Manitoba. He was not made available for comment Monday.

While in Gimli, the politicians met with former police chief Devon Clunis to discuss policing and the Black Lives Matter movement. They spoke with Grand Chief Arlen Dumas about his developmental work, and they spoke with groups dedicated to saving Lake Winnipeg.

The caucus meeting ends today.

gabrielle.piche@freepress.mb.ca

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
The Headliner community journalist

Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Gabby is a cub reporter fresh from Red River College’s creative communications program. She majored in journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press. Gabby also has a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for newspapers in the Interlake, including the Selkirk Record, in 2019, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in 2020. When she’s not chasing stories, you can find Gabby listening to podcasts, attempting yoga or petting somebody’s dog Email her at gabrielle.piche@canstarnews.com

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