OTTAWA – Derek Sloan faces potential confrontation with fellow Conservative MPs after the leadership contestant refused to apologize for questioning the loyalty of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.
In an emergency regional caucus meeting on Tuesday evening, Ontario MPs voted to apologize to the rookie MP for asking if Dr. Theresa Tam worked for Canada or for China. If he refused, two conservative sources said Star MPs were ready to call a vote to kick Sloan out of the caucus.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, Sloan decided to seize this opportunity.
“The question of whether she works” for Canada “or” for China “was rhetorical,” Sloan wrote in a letter posted on his social media.
“I’m not questioning Dr. Tam’s loyalty to Canada, and of course, Justin Trudeau is ultimately responsible for following his advice. But in both cases, I question their judgment and their competence to do the job, not their motivations. “
Sloan, the Member of Parliament for Hastings-Lennox and Addington, has been widely criticized – including by his own party – for questioning Tam’s loyalty to Canada.
In a video posted on social media last week, Sloan suggested that Tam was spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, accused him of “parrot” by the World Health Organization and asked if Tam – who was born in Hong Kong – was “working for Canada or for China.” “
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer initially refused to condemn Sloan’s comments when questioned last week. However, he told reporters on Monday that he did not agree with them.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to question someone’s loyalty to their country,” said Scheer. “I think it is a very serious accusation that you must have very substantial evidence to make. “
Pressure from Ontario caucus members to have Sloan apologize – and his refusal to do so – could put pressure on Scheer to take a firmer stand. But a conservative source told The Star last week that Scheer may be reluctant to be dragged into a conversation about the candidates vying to replace him.
Sloan is one of two socially conservative candidates for the party – the other is Leslyn Lewis – in a four-person contest that is widely seen as a two-way race between former cabinet ministers Peter MacKay and Erin O ‘Toole.
Several sources have suggested that leadership policy plays a role in the debate on Tuesday evening. The Ontario caucus has at least 12 members of Parliament and two senators who have approved MacKay.
MacKay was the last leader of the Progressive Conservative Party before its merger with the Canadian Alliance. He has already angered social conservatives by referring to their causes as a “smelly albatross” that dragged around Scheer’s neck during the 2019 elections.
O’Toole’s campaign has repeatedly stressed that all types of conservatives would be welcome under his leadership. Four sources confirmed that O’Toole attended the Ontario caucus meeting on Tuesday.
The MacKay campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for O’Toole said he does not comment on caucus privacy issues.
While Scheer and Stephen Harper have repeatedly vowed not to reopen debate on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, “checks and balances” still carry considerable weight – and organizing power – within the conservative movement.
In an email to supporters earlier this week, the anti-abortion pressure group Campaign Life Coalition urged its supporters to “save” Sloan’s candidacy and his place in the Conservative caucus.
“Andrew Scheer initially dismissed media suggestions that Sloan should be kicked out of the Conservative Party caucus and prevented from continuing to run as a leadership contestant … Good for Andrew, we think,” the organization wrote.
“But after a few days of intense harassment by journalists, Scheer finally broke down … Scheer refused to say whether or not he would deport Derek Sloan. “
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Campaign Life urged members to call on Conservative MPs to “demand that they defend Sloan against any effort to disqualify him from the leadership contest or kick him out of caucus.”
Sloan, meanwhile, blamed the entire episode on Liberal MPs and the media for pushing a “deliberate misinterpretation of my review of Dr. Tam”.
The Conservative caucus is scheduled to meet by videoconference next Wednesday.