Derek Sloan is no longer part of the Conservative Party caucus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Derek Sloan is no longer part of the Conservative Party caucus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

COLUMN: A choice of social conservatism or economic conservatism

Decision to remove outspoken MP Derek Sloan from Conservative caucus will have repercussions

Derek Sloan, a controversial and outspoken Member of Parliament, is no longer part of the Conservative Party of Canada.

On Jan. 20, he was ousted from the party caucus after it was discovered he had received a campaign donation from Paul Fromm, a white supremacist. The decision was made by the party, not just by the party leader.

The donation was $131 and some have questioned why such a small amount would result in expulsion from the party. Some are wondering how any Member of Parliament could check all donations received to ensure none have come from individuals associated with hate speech or racism.

However, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole said the donation was just one of multiple disturbing incidents involving Sloan.

READ ALSO: Conservative MP Derek Sloan ejected from party caucus

READ ALSO: Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole defends decision to back, then oust, Sloan

Sloan, who has been described as a social conservative, had earlier questioned whether Canada’s public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam works for China or Canada. He has also made statements supporting conversion therapy for those who are LGBTQ+ and has made some strong anti-abortion statements.

These views have brought him under fire by the Conservative Party, as the party is striving to be an inclusive party on the political right. Still, Sloan has a base of supporters.

In the 2019 federal election, he won his seat in the Ontario riding of Hastings—Lennox and Addington, receiving 21,968 votes. That’s more than two out of every five ballots cast in that riding.

In the Conservative Party’s 2020 leadership race in January, 2020, he received 27,278 votes in the first ballot. That works out to more than one in seven ballots cast.

While he was eliminated after the first round, the vote numbers show there is a sizable segment within the party who agree with his views. Social conservatism is present in this country, and a candidate running on such a platform can get a degree of support.

Canada can and should be able to accommodate a wide spectrum of political views. This is the nature of having a democratic government.

There is nothing to prevent voters from supporting a candidate who has views some consider extreme. Over the years, individual candidates and political parties in Canada have been almost as varied as the people who live in this country.

At the same time, the existing political parties in Canada also have the power to determine their message and image. This has been seen at both the federal and provincial levels, as party leaders or executive members have at times taken great measures to ensure candidates represent the party’s values and image.

In the weeks and months leading up to the Conservative Party’s leadership convention a year ago, the party was working on how to present itself as a big-tent party, able to accommodate a wide variety of Canadians who supported an economically conservative platform.

Putting the emphasis instead on a strong social conservative element would have attracted some new voters, but at the expense of another segment of Conservative support.

What happens next remains to be seen.

By removing Sloan, the party is working to position itself as a voice for economic conservatism above social conservatism. However, there is nothing to stop Sloan and others with similar views from forming a new party, promoting a platform of social conservatism. Social conservative candidates and parties have been part of Canada’s political landscape in the past.

The decision by the Conservative Party could alter Canada’s political landscape.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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