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Friday , 5 March 2021
Image: Derek Sloan. Canadian Press.

KERR: It was a political hit job and the right decision     

The decision to kick Ontario MP Derek Sloan out of the Conservative Party of Canada was a political hit job. It was also the right decision.

For the uninitiated, Derek Sloan was the fourth place candidate in the Tory leadership race and the subject of a number of public gaffs in the last year: support for conversion therapy, suggesting Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Teresa Tam worked for China, and sponsoring a petition comparing the COVID-19 vaccine to human experimentation, to name a few. His ejection from the party came after it was revealed earlier this week a white supremacist donated $131 to his leadership campaign.

That the $131 donation is the thing that saw Sloan ejected from caucus is the reason I believe it was a political hit job.

After news of the donation broke, Sloan said “Paul Fromm is a notorious name to some, but not to everyone, and clearly this name, mixed as it was in the midst of thousands of other donations, did not ring any bells to my team.”

Given Sloan raised $329,000 during the second quarter of 2020, it is entirely plausible he would be unaware of a specific $131 donation.

Provincially, Elections Alberta doesn’t disclose details of contributions under $250. Federally, Elections Canada has a $1,650 annual limit on individual donations and a handy database you can search for evidence of donations to your target of choice.

An admittedly quick review of the records for MP Shannon Stubbs and MP David Yurdiga shows most individual donations are well under that limit, and only a rough quarter of donations are $1,000 or more.

To my mind, it just doesn’t jive that there is a reasonable expectation to recognize individual donations like that unless they’re also keeping a list of undesirables, in which case I would also expect it to come to light a heck of a lot sooner, like when the donation was made.

So I think it was a political hit job. I don’t actually care who by, because I also think ejecting Sloan from the caucus was the right call to make.

To put it bluntly, he’s embarrassing and in my opinion does the party more harm than good. I didn’t like what I saw during the leadership race, and I like what I’ve seen since even less.

An analysis of the 2011 election shows that like all other Canadians, immigrant voters have a diversity of viewpoints on social issues and federal policy.

There’s a lot of common ground to be had, and it does not behoove the CPC to alienate those voters by permitting someone like Sloan to spout off about their loyalties or attract louder anti-immigrant voices to the forefront. Under our current system, the CPC can’t afford it. Too many of those potential voters are located in urban and suburban ridings in and around Toronto and are crucial to the election of any government.

It irritates me when Conservative politicians like Sloan start attacking vaccines and encourage narratives rooted in a lack of literacy skills in the general public, in large part because it provides such an easy opportunity for opponents to attack the party with the anti-science label it received during the Harper years.

Not that I necessarily agree with that assessment. My impression of things has always been that they still wanted good data with which to make decisions, but there was a fundamental distrust (which persists) of the media’s ability to correctly interpret the information given and a slavish dedication to future practical applications of science for the economy.

You didn’t get to do science just because it was cool and interesting and might broaden your understanding of something, if you wanted funding you needed to be able to show how it could be applied to technological advances or to create a job in some way.

It was less a muzzling of scientists and more a particularly heavy-handed attempt to control the narrative.

Following the ousting of Sloan, Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole claimed “people of all backgrounds have a place in our party.” I think provided he is respectful of the more socially conservative wing of the party without alienating the Red Tories from down east, the party has the potential to come back stronger.

Alternatively, the in-fighting will continue, the far right will bleed to Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada, the centrists will swing to the Greens or the Liberals, we’ll be back to the divided right of the pre-Harper era and the whole country will go to pot.

Such visions of hope for politics in 2021.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.