Toronto Star

The other Erin O’Toole elects to enjoy the confusion

Colorado radio host gets a kick out of misguided attention on Twitter


Late last Sunday night inside her family home in northern Colorado, Erin O’Toole directly felt the reverberat­ions of Canada’s Conservati­ve party leadership race.

As news fast spread about the federal Tories’ new leader, O’Toole’s Twitter account lit up with mentions and new followers — all from Canada, more than 1,000 km away.

“I think I got (about) 2,000 new followers. It’s still weird to say that because that’s roughly how many I had before all this started,” said the American O’Toole, a veteran radio host who has been intermitte­ntly using Twitter for seven years.

“Now, I fully expect probably after this week is over, people will be like, ‘OK, I followed the wrong O’Toole or just because it was kind of fun, and now I see she only tweets about Colorado stuff and lots of her dog pictures.’ ”

For the past couple of years, O’Toole had come to know there was a member of Parliament in Canada who is her exact namesake — a random odd tweet would come in tagging her handle by mistake.

But she had no idea the Durham MP and former minister of veteran affairs was running for the party’s top job, and certainly didn’t see this week’s deluge coming.

When she finally decided to look the politician up, she was even more surprised at what she found. “Not only do we have the exact same name, his middle name Michael is my dad’s name. And we have the same birthday. What are the odds?”

O’Toole — whose radio career spans 25 years and taken her to currently hosting on KUNC, a community radio station affiliated with NPR — said she has never spoken to the Canadian politician and has no knowledge of his policies.

But she said some of the tweets she gets that are meant for him tend to be “a bit vitriolic,” though she doesn’t know if any of it reflects his values and positions.

O’Toole said both her family and her colleagues at work were among the first to notice the social-media boost. They thought it was “the most hilarious thing” and even joked at meetings that if anyone needed alaugh they could check out her Twitter feed.

In fact, it was one of her digital editors who suggested she pin a tweet on her timeline explaining to Canadians that she may not be the Erin O’Toole they’re looking for.

Over the past several days, O’Toole has spent some time interactin­g with Canadians on her Twitter feed, some of whom joking that she be named Canada’s Twitter ambassador.

“It’s been just fun. Everyone has been so nice and wonderful, very apologetic too. I guess that’s a Canadian thing to do.”

O’Toole said she and her family visited Canada many years ago and now that she has a highprofil­e namesake in the country’s politics, it might be time to plan another visit.

“We went to the Canada side of Niagara Falls, which is way more spectacula­r. Sorry, United States!” she said while laughing at her own Canadian-ness in apologizin­g.

“One of the great things with this whole week on Twitter has been people sending me suggestion­s of places to go. There’s so much pride that Canadians have in the places where they live.”

 ??  ?? Erin O’Toole, a radio host in Colorado, has been mistaken online multiple times for Canada’s new Conservati­ve Party leader, who shares the same name.
Erin O’Toole, a radio host in Colorado, has been mistaken online multiple times for Canada’s new Conservati­ve Party leader, who shares the same name.

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