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Saskatchewan Senator Denise Batters speaks during a pro-pipeline rally at IJACK Technologies Inc. near Moosomin, Sask., on Feb. 16, 2019. Erin O'Toole has kicked Ms. Batters out of the Conservative caucus one day after she challenged his leadership.Michael Bell/The Canadian Press

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has kicked out Denise Batters from the Conservative caucus after the senator publicly challenged his leadership of the party.

Ms. Batters launched a petition on Monday that called on party members to support a review of Mr. O’Toole’s leadership within the next six months.

The senator had said many Conservatives are unhappy with Mr. O’Toole’s lack of clarity on key issues and she said the Leader is perceived as untrustworthy.

Mr. O’Toole announced the senator’s removal on the eve of two days of closed-door meetings of the Conservative caucus in Ottawa.

The Conservative Party is the only party on Parliament Hill that includes senators in its caucus.

“Senator Denise Batters has been removed from the Conservative national caucus. As the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, I will not tolerate an individual discrediting and showing a clear lack of respect toward the efforts of the entire Conservative caucus, who are holding the corrupt and disastrous Trudeau government to account,” Mr. O’Toole said in a statement released late Tuesday evening by his office.

“Just eight weeks ago, Canadians elected Conservatives to hold Justin Trudeau accountable for his economic mismanagement, and fight the cost-of-living crisis, skyrocketing inflation, and supply chain issues that are crippling businesses. That is our focus as a team.”

Ms. Batters responded to Mr. O’Toole’s announcement with a statement posted on Twitter.

“Tonight, Erin O’Toole tried to silence me for giving our #CPC members a voice. I will not be silenced by a leader so weak that he fired me VIA VOICEMAIL,” she wrote. “Most importantly, he cannot suppress the will of our Conservative Party members!”

Her message then urges supporters to sign the petition that she launched this week.

Senator Don Plett, the leader of the Conservatives in the Senate, sided with Mr. O’Toole in the internal feud.

“Tonight, Erin O’Toole has made the decision to remove Senator Denise Batters from the National Caucus,” he said in a Twitter post Tuesday evening. “As always, I continue to support Erin O’Toole’s strong and principled leadership to unite the Conservative Party of Canada.”

When the House of Commons sits on Monday for the first time since the Sept. 20 election, the Conservatives will be the Official Opposition with 119 seats. The minority Liberal government will have 159 seats.

Internal dissent within the Conservative ranks blew into the open in recent days after last week’s announcement by Mr. O’Toole of the makeup of his list of MPs given senior critic positions, which the party calls a shadow cabinet.

The list was notable for who was not included. Several MPs who had voiced concerns with the party’s position on mandatory vaccinations were dropped from the shadow cabinet.

Also notable, rookie MP Leslyn Lewis did not receive any critic assignment even though she placed third in the 2020 leadership race that elected Mr. O’Toole.

Ms. Lewis had made public statements last month in defence of those who decline to reveal their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Mr. O’Toole and his party have repeatedly declined to say how many Conservative MPs are vaccinated or unvaccinated. The issue could come to a head next week, as the House of Commons has approved a policy requiring all individuals entering parliamentary buildings to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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