Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Vancouver on Tuesday morning.

Conservative party leadership candidate Erin O’Toole has stepped up his criticism of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and expressed fear that federal Liberal candidates will manipulate their party and writ return in order to pressure independent candidates to quit the race.

O’Toole, who has close ties to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, says provincial Liberal Party insiders are concerned that Trudeau’s government will join forces with the Alberta-friendly former federal Liberals in a bid to ensure the seat of Liberal nomination in the tight-knit Edmonton-Strathcona riding at a crucial time in the federal Liberal campaign.

Here is O’Toole’s reaction to Liberal sources’ hints that those concerns might prove true:

“We saw what happened in British Columbia, a close Liberal seat with some of the most successful fundraising in the entire party. These days, it’s hard to stay competitive, or win, in a federal election without a strong performance in Edmonton.”

“We know that not every seat will change hands. The race for the new federal seat of Edmonton-Strathcona is shaping up to be very tight, and I can tell you it will not be decided on a matter of weeks. We know that people in Alberta will stay at home and show their support for progressive leadership. Canadians will stand with us, and we will take our message to Edmonton.”

Despite some public back-pedaling, O’Toole’s accusation does not go far enough. The Liberals need to be professional and aim to control the possible scandal themselves. The riding is significantly more diverse than it was in 2015, and Conservatives can win by fielding a particularly skilled candidate.

Considering the unpredictability of upcoming polls and controversial rhetoric from the two camps, though, it seems a good time to remind the Liberal party that even though Trudeau has said they are “timely, passionate and real,” their recent actions, including the recent promise of unpopular “new sex-ed curriculum,” might not be.

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