Controversy struck the Conservative caucus after leader Erin O’Toole dismissed Sen. Denise Batters for challenging his leadership last week.

Batters started a petition aimed at forcing a referendum on O’Toole’s leadership within six months, rather than waiting for a scheduled leadership confidence vote at the party’s national convention in 2023. She explained her petition in a November 17 statement following her dismissal.

“It asked that our members simply have them say they deserve the leadership and future direction of our party, in an expedited manner that would be the usual course of action after an election loss.”

Leader Erin O’Toole replied with a statement of his own last week regarding the dismissal of the Saskatchewan Senator.

“As the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, I will not tolerate an individual discrediting and showing a clear lack of respect towards the efforts of the entire Conservative caucus, who are holding the corrupt and disastrous Trudeau government to account,” O’Toole said.

Kenora MP, Eric Melillo said in an interview following a caucus meeting in Ottawa last week he hopes these actions don’t keep happening.

“We are focused on the upcoming session of Parliament on getting to work for Canadians and providing a strong opposition under Erin’s leadership. That’s where we as MP’s those were elected, that’s where our mindset is and that’s what we're looking forward to doing,” noted Melillo.

One of Batters' reasoning behind the petition is due to the 2021 federal election loss to the Liberal party.

“Erin O’Toole lost this election by every measure. Our party lost half a million votes, won fewer seats, and received a lower popular vote than in 2019. We lost ethnically diverse MPs, female MPs, and MPs in the GTA, Alberta, and in Vancouver’s suburbs. In the GTA alone, O’Toole lost 80,000 votes compared to 2019. O’Toole’s inability to communicate or connect with female voters created an even wider gender gap,” said Batters on her Members Vote website.

The Conservatives only secured 119 seats in the election, which was the same amount of seats won in the 2019 election. The Liberals secured the minority government with 160 seats.