Alberta Politics
Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O’Toole, possibly contemplating what to do about Derek Sloan (Photo: Facebook).

The Conservative Party of Canada’s malaise with its loony right runs deeper than Derek Sloan

Posted on January 20, 2021, 1:51 am
6 mins

If Erin O’Toole were serious about making the Conservative Party of Canada a less congenial place for the far right, he would have kicked out Derek Sloan weeks ago for his odious xenophobia, homophobia and racist online commentary. 

Mr. O’Toole was picked to replace the desperately awful Andrew Scheer last summer after the debacle of the October 2019 election, in which Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to hang onto power after a string of excruciating embarrassments that, after considering the most likely alternative, many Canadians chose to hold their noses and overlook.

Soon-to-be skidded Conservative MP Derek Sloan, with the late Lester B. Pearson, Liberal prime minister, doubtless looking askance of him in the background (Photo: Facebook).

As should now be obvious to all, along with COVID-19 the Trump virus has spread to the Canadian conservative movement and the symptoms include bigotry, xenophobia, division, and growing distrust of democratic rule owing to its inability to deliver consistent ballot-box victories for the authoritarian right. 

Indeed, Mr. Sloan’s candidacy in the same leadership race from which Mr. O’Toole emerged victorious is evidence of this malaise within Conservative Party ranks. And while the MP for Hastings, Lennox and Addington came last and was swiftly bumped after the first ballot, he obviously has significant appeal to far-right conservatives who have ingested a little too much Q with their breakfast Shreddies. 

Alas for Mr. O’Toole, who clearly recognizes the Conservative Party is going to have to somehow broaden its base or go the way of the Whigs and Social Credit, dealing with someone like Mr. Sloan is not as easy as it should be because the man is emblematic of a certain disorder within the Conservative Party. 

Mr. Sloan’s appeal within Conservative ranks despite his poor showing in the balloting shouldn’t be underestimated in those parts of the country like Alberta where Mr. O’Toole’s strength may speak more to the organization of the party establishment and the presence of a certain former prime minister than to widespread opposition to the MP’s execrable ideas. 

Nor is Mr. O’Toole entirely free of a whiff of this odour – “take back Canada,” indeed! 

The appeal of this stuff within Conservative ranks, obviously, is why Mr. O’Toole feared listening to repeated calls from outside the party to simply banish Mr. Sloan for holding views repugnant to the vast majority of Canadians. 

So the revelation that Mr. Sloan had accepted a donation from a notorious neo-Nazi must have seemed like a godsend to the newish Conservative leader, an unexpected opportunity to deal with the problem before it metastasizes but without having to risk offending considerable numbers of the party’s core supporters.

Having missed whatever honeymoon a mere Opposition leader can expect with voters, due to COVID and the instructive spectacle of the unravelling Trump Presidency south of the Medicine Line, Mr. O’Toole is obviously looking for a way to reverse his party’s slide toward traditional NDP territory in the polls. 

Indeed, if this keeps up, Canada could end up with two third parties and no second party — almost as bad as the days when it had three, the Reform Party, the NDP and the Bloc. 

How unfortunate for Mr. O’Toole, then, that it has now been discovered that the party he leads also accepted donations from the same neo-Nazi they’re about to frog-march Mr. Sloan out the door for taking money from. 

This is almost as excruciating as Mr. Trudeau in blackface, and absent the weak excuse of the poor judgment associated with youth. 

Already Conservative political columnists are springing to Mr. Sloan’s defence on the grounds the party ought not to punish him for doing what it does itself. Some of them are pretending they’d never even heard of the donor at the centre of the controversy.

They sure seem much more reluctant to ponder what this tells us about the state of the Americanized, Republicanized Conservative Party of Canada. 

This will not likely work out well for Mr. O’Toole, whether or not he manages to placate Mr. Sloan’s many supporters in the party and the punditocracy. 

Most Canadians, one suspects, will conclude that with or without Mr. Sloan, Mr. O’Toole’s still-Trumpified party is a poisoned chalice, from which they are wise not to imbibe.

16 Comments to: The Conservative Party of Canada’s malaise with its loony right runs deeper than Derek Sloan

  1. Dave

    January 20th, 2021

    Well, if Mr. Scheer was still in charge perhaps he would be going on about how no laws were broken and Mr. Sloan is free to accept donations from whomever at this point.

    Of course, Mr. O’Toole is a bit sharper at politics and realizes this is the best chance to get rid of Mr. Sloan. Of course, someone with convictions would have done this much sooner, as this is not the first cringe worthy thing Sloan has done even under the current leader.

    Mr. Sloan’s argument is he got a lots of donations, so he didn’t notice the one from the neo Nazi. Perhaps true, but it misses the point. What does is say about a party that a neo Nazi’s wants to be a member and what does it say about a candidate and a party that a neo Nazi wants to donate to them?

    So, sure return the donations and perhaps they will finally kick Mr. Sloan out too, but if it has come to this, they really have much bigger problems. Mr. Sloan and these donations are just a symptom of this.

    Reply
  2. John McManus

    January 20th, 2021

    Remember, Sloan and Lewis together had more support than either the old fool or Potato Pete and they are both closet reformatories. They need a candidate who is not a xenophobic, racist, homophobic, bigoted racist but decent people have been chased out of the shrinking tent.

    Reply
  3. Bill Malcolm

    January 20th, 2021

    Pretty much concisely sums up how I feel on the national front. Can’t argue with it. Superior opinion.

    The Conservatives are 100% out-to-lunch and nasty with it; Trump lost, you Cro-Magnon armpit scratchers! Trudeau’s singular saving grace at the moment is his attempt to steer us through the pandemic with what little leverage he has over the 85 point IQ of provincial conservative premiers, because our constitution gave provinces jurisdiction over health care. But the world private sector in the form of big pharma* has knifed him in the back, same as it has the Europeans. Trudeau actually seems to believe in Canada, while schizophrenically supporting both petroleum pipelines and the environment, a point-of-view shared by Notley and Horgan. What passes for logic in these three minds, I couldn’t possibly say. Mush, I think.

    Mush is better than outright indecent bigotry and effectively embracing white supremacy like the snarling Cons.

    But mush is red river cereal for breakfast every day. Hardly satisfying. Unimaginative. Without a call to action. The Greens have turned into the municipal-level deep inner GTA social conscience of the vacuous federal NDP, and are otherwise without any national clue on the environment whatsoever. And the country tolerates sedition in the form of allowing Bloc MPs to attend the Commons in Parliament.

    So the nation is basically a mere husk, split internally and occupied in self-contained cells by parochial identities. And with useless federal politics and no real national identity other than the fallacy we allow ourselves to believe that we’re wonderful.

    Someone with a clue might resurrect original capitalism theory, which allowed people to trade as is their natural wont, but placing tight controls against market cornering, monopolistic behaviour and financial scams from the usury sector known as banks, while allowing government to provide basic infrastructure through taxation for the common good. Nah, not going to happen. Makes too much sense.

    * Pfizer’s European operations are in Belgium, and screw the people, they have decided to expand the factory to make hay while the sun shines. Greed overshadows conscience. Belgium itself has been from the start in the lead for per capita Covid-19 deaths, 3 and a half times as bad as Canada at the moment. You think Canada is cheesed off with Pfizer? Check out the European reactions. For general interest’s sake, here’s a link to per capita virus deaths. Note: Belgium running away with the gold, the US in ninth place and Canada 43rd. John Hopkins University data.

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/coronavirus/

    Reply
    • Scotty on Denman

      January 23rd, 2021

      It is democracy, not “sedition,” that elected MPs from Quebec attend the federal parliament. You almost sound like Harper when he desperately appealed to Canadians that the inclusion of the Bloc Québécois in parliamentary alliance with the Liberals and NDP was “unconstitutional”—in fact, Harper was so desperate that he nearly precipitated a real constitutional crisis by bullying the Governor into granting his prorogation request even though the Conservative bill had already been tabled—and even though an alternative group of MPs had made their commitment to vote en bloc to pass bills with an actual majority of seats, unlike Harper’s minority government— known to the Governor. The proper decision would have been to allow the bill to be voted on to determine if HarperCons still had the confidence of the House. Harper bullied the Governor into taking the unprecedented step to allow his prorogation (instead of properly allowing the vote on the bill), solely because it was likely his government would have lost confidence (the three-party alliance had already committed to voted against the bill). That would have been proper, due process but for the real “sedition” committed by Harper himself.

      The “parochial cells” you lament are actually provinces which have each agreed to relinquish the minimum amount of sovereignty needed for a federation to operate, but otherwise retain the right to be as self-contained and self-interested as possible. By your estimate, every federation is a mere husk. One wonders how such an internally “split” federation with “no real national identity” could have possibly endured two armed rebellions, six foreign wars—two of which were World Wars—two Referenda about one of the federates separating, and half a dozen Aboriginal uprisings, two with shooting, that involved the whole country, all the while geographically involved with the greatest world superpower’s strategic position while maintaining the largest bilateral trade in history across the world’s longest undefended border.

      Someone with a clue would admit that theoretical—or, as you call it, “original capitalism”— and practical capitalism are distinct: the former exists in ideal only, the latter is required by the reality of national sovereignties and strategic fact. In reality, capitalism is a money management system availed by various private and public enterprises, but never without significant government oversight and control as their respective sovereignties deem fit. I agree with most of youR characterizations of such oversight, but would include that governments, especially those democratically directed by citizens, are not restricted to providing “basic infrastructure” (they may participate in domestic and foreign commerce as much as their citizens direct them to, including public monopolies prohibited purely private interests) and may acquire the stakes by means other than taxation (customs duties, returns on public investment in private and public enterprises, royalties, &c.)

      For the public good? Nah, I don’t think that’s too good an idea for it to happen. I think it already happens—and agree: it’s a good idea.

      Reply
  4. Political Ranger

    January 20th, 2021

    “a certain disorder within the Conservative Party”

    This is the prevailing view of the Party among thinking people. It’s become more than a little obvious that the characteristics of this disorder are belligerence, ignorance and superstition. These people are not of the 21rst Century; it seems they are more comfortable with 16th century witch burnings and beheadings for not adhering to royal proclamations. Although they do seem to love their social twitter-toys.

    Nor do I think that it’s the case of an “Americanized, Republicanized Conservative Party”. Conservatives of every kind have found themselves left behind by the arrow of time; they simply have no relevance in the modern contemporary era. A conservative point of view today is illegitimate and results in a course of action guaranteed to fail. Yesterday’s habits and traditions have little value informing and resolving today’s issues.

    Reply
  5. Carlos

    January 20th, 2021

    Well I am not sorry for Erin O’Toole or the Conservative Party of Canada. They enjoyed the ride with Trump dominating the political extreme, they could not wait for an opportunity to push the country to the far right as much as possible including like you said O’Toole himself and now it is time to pay the bills.
    Harper started this process and now it is failing and I for one cannot wait for the demise of the party to nothing. They deserve it. In the process take this poison from Alberta because soon we cannot breath in this province.
    Day after day of scandals and completely unacceptable behaviour of lies and covert agenda pushing, it is enough to drive anyone already under stress from the pandemic to madness. Shock and awe strategies that only they deserve to themselves.

    Reply
  6. ronmac

    January 20th, 2021

    Derek Sloan may hold views at odds with majority opinion but nevertheless there are some within the Liberal twittersphere who are asking if he’s expected to know about every $130 donation in a campaign which raised $1 million. The offending donor was a rather obscure person, not a household name, so he was easy to miss in any vetting process.

    Reply
  7. Neil Lore

    January 20th, 2021

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree it is a bad look to have accepted a donation from a neo-Nazi, but is it normal practice for politicians to be aware of the source of all of their donations? I mean, if I send a couple hundred bucks to candidate X, is it normal practice for candidate X to “vet” me before accepting my donation? If this same neo-Nazi had donated to all the political parties, what are the odds on any of them realizing the donation is from a neo-Nazi and refusing it? I’m for sure not going to bat for D-bag Sloan, just trying to understand our political system a bit better.

    Also: of COURSE the neo-Nazi also donated to the Conservative party. What other party has a chance of normalizing white supremacy? How did O’Toole not see that coming? Is it just me, or does the guy seem like just as much of a shrill, reactionary partisan lightweight as Scheer?

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      January 20th, 2021

      Neil, I had the same thought, especially when Derek Sloan pointed out that the Conservative Party had similarly failed to catch Paul Fromm’s activity, and imagined how the guy could poison anyone’s candidacy with a donation. I realized, however, what was missing from Mr. Sloan’s defence was an unqualified disavowal of Mr. Fromm’s beliefs, which you would expect if a more progressive candidate inadvertently accepted a donation from an embarrassing source.

      Reply
  8. Abs

    January 20th, 2021

    I hope they’re all glued to the TV today. There’s no room for their terrible attitudes in a modern democracy. Our neighbors to the south have taken out the trash. Watch and learn.

    Reply
  9. Athabascan

    January 20th, 2021

    Tip of the iceberg to be sure. There are easily another dozen or so federal conservatives who are white supremacists, nazis, or Trumpists. Theses loathsome characters feel very comfortable in only one party.

    By the way, where did Erin O’Toole go on holidays during Xmas? How come MSM won’t report on it – seems newsworthy.

    Reply
  10. brett

    January 20th, 2021

    I believe that O’Toole finally understands the urgency of ridding the CPC of Derek Sloan. As do most members…especially those in vote-rich urban areas. Urgency has overtaken method.

    First off is the upcoming CPC March policy debate. Sloan had been attempting to ‘pack’ this in order to get certain policy decisions passed and on the books. These would not be representative of the whole CPC and would hurt the Party at the next election.

    Second, there will probably be an election in the fall, post covid. O’Toole has, and will have, enough challenges without having to deal with any Hunsperger type comments by Sloan leading up do, and during the election. That would be fatal.

    Third…Sloan by his comments and actions is encouraging others in the far right to join the CPC. This would be a PR disaster for the CPC.

    The reality is that the time tested dog whistles for social conservatives, abortion and gay marriage, are nothing but a con. The numbers tell the story. Approx. 58-60 percent of Canadians are pro choice. This number has remained constant for the past 15 years. Approx. 70 percent of Canadians have no issue with gay marriage. Given those numbers what political party, with a view to actually forming a Government at some point, would put forward policies that are contrary to those stats? Let alone attempt to give public airing to one’s personal views of faith.

    At the end of the day I am certain that there is a place for Derek Sloan. Not in the the Conservative Party. Perhaps in the Christian Heritage Party or Bernier’s Peoples Party where Canadians will have some assurance that he will never sit in Parliament again.

    Reply
  11. Neil Lore

    January 20th, 2021

    Funny that O’Toole wants to build a more “inclusive” Conservative party by excluding people. Someone ought to point out to him that if his party doesn’t support racist policies and ideas, it won’t attract the support of racist people and organizations, and then there will be no need to exclude anyone. Put another way, if they stopped blowing that damned dog whistle so hard there would be fewer wagging tails.

    Reply
  12. Alan K Spiller

    January 20th, 2021

    I learned a long time ago from former MLAs from the Lougheed era that you can’t trust anyone from the Reform party. Lougheed’s energy minister Bill Dickie was a brother in law of one of my uncles .

    Looking after their own well-being and that of their rich friends while spreading lies is all they care about, and that’s exactly what we have been seeing. The stupid part of the whole situation is the fact that the stupid conservatives have allowed them to get control of all the conservative parties in Canada and it’s gotten to the point where you can’t trust any of them.

    One of my friends said it best “How can you be a conservative in Canada when there isn’t any true conservatives left, there are only these right wing extremists who don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves and their friends”. I think he is right.

    Reply
  13. Just Me

    January 20th, 2021

    The CPC is a repository of every conspiracy looney out there. And judging by the way the Toole and the Angry Midget are spinning their crazy lies and conspiracies about PMJT, it looks like a portion of their voting block will follow Sloan, because Chinese communism and a secret invasion force on the border.

    Reply
  14. Scotty on Denman

    January 24th, 2021

    Too many times has O’Toole acquiesced or looked scared of extremists in the CPC for me to believe he could rectify this millstone problem. I don’t think he could do it even if he wanted to. If “Take Back Canada” is indicative, it looks as if he has dismissed out-of-hand the option of foregoing power in order to rebuild a conservative party that has a hope of staying relevant, let alone the loyal opposition.

    I’m convinced a new party built from scratch as a properly conservative party would get a lot of votes from moderate conservatives—that is, get BACK a lot of those Tory-style voters estranged from the pulsating, peeved lump of seething hatred the nominal Con party has become. That would probably mean foregoing power for a mandate, maybe two, but the reward would be increasing popularity with or because of responsible leaders who’ve been all the while repelled from the CPC’s backward-looking prejudices and growing dependence on dog-whistle bigotry and belligerence.

    Surely there’s something more important to conserve than toxic neoliberalism that has usurped every nominal conservative party in the Western World. How’s about conserving ecosystems, for starters?

    Reply

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