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Tories whitewash their white supremacy streak

Bigot, without apology
By: 
John Bell

January 23, 2021

When Tory MP Derek Sloan ran for leadership of his party, he coined the slogan “Conservative. Without Apology.” His platform included support for NRA-style gun laws, opposing LGBTQ rights, climate change denial and rescinding the carbon tax, opposition to “political correctness”, and withdrawing from the World Health Organization.

He had set out to be a figurehead for social conservatives in his party, regularly making embarrassing headlines and challenging Erin O’Toole’s leadership. O’Toole has been walking a tightrope, trying to keep his base engaged and keep the racist, homophobic and pro-Trump rhetoric on the down low. 

So when Sloan was caught accepting a donation from well-known neo-Nazi Paul Fromm, he gave O’Toole a pretext to kick a dangerous rival out of the party. 

He lived up to his slogan, he refused to apologize. He tried justifications: the fact that Fromm used his full legal name Frederick P. Fromm instead of his more notorious “Paul”; and the fact that Fromm had officially joined the party and voted (for Sloan, natch) in their 2020 leadership convention. And when an undisclosed majority of Tory MPs voted to eject him, Sloan got downright threatening:

“It shows an absolute cowardice, an absolute failure to address the real issues that animate much of our base. This was the worst mistake they ever made and they will regret this. I’m positive of it.”

He called on his supporters to make his expulsion an issue when the CPC meets in March for its policy convention. 

Sloan: anatomy of a bigot

Sloan was raised a member of the conservative Seventh Day Adventist sect, and attended private religious schools in Ottawa and college in the US. After graduation his family set him up to run a furniture liquidation store in Oshawa. He was so outraged that law societies in BC and Ontario challenged the right of Trinity Western University – a blatantly anti-GBLTQ evangelical institution – to grant law degrees, that he went to law school specifically so he could fight against equal rights laws. 

Elected to parliament, he made it known that he favoured rescinding same-sex marriage rights. He declared that homosexuality was a lifestyle choice, and voted against banning conversion therapy in Canada. To no one’s surprise he is a vocal opponent of women’s rights to abortion. When running for party leader he promised to reopen the abortion debate.

He is far from alone in the Conservative Party in making a display of his anti-communism, and teaming it with a racist anti-Chinese rhetoric. But when he publicly wondered whether Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, Theresa Tam was working “for Canada or for China”, even his caucus mates started to shift nervously in their chairs.

O’Toolegans

The Sloan saga played out just when O’Toole was desperately trying to establish himself as a new Stephen Harper: always able to keep the white nationalist Reform Party gang on a short leash with a wink, a nod and a dog whistle. 

There is lots of talk about the CPC being a “broad tent”, but how do you make a home for xenophobes and bigots without them scaring everybody else away? This why conservatives love/hate Donald Trump. He seemed able to do the impossible. Polling has found that even after Trump’s election defeat, even after the January 6 white riot at the Capitol, almost half of CPC member would have voted for Trump.

So O’Toole floats a new Trumpian slogan, “Take Back Canada” at the same time as he denies any resemblance. “The Conservative Party is totally different from the Republican Party in the U.S.,” O’Toole told Global News.

“I want a strong and diverse Conservative Party. That’s why I’ve been reaching out to new Canadians, Indigenous Canadians, LGBTQ Canadians.”

The Liberals are as quick to pounce on CPC hypocrisy as they are slow at admitting their own. Suddenly the Lib twittersphere was alive with people gleefully sharing photos of CPC deputy leader Michelle Rempel wearing a MAGA hat, and an Andrew Scheer era quote about Trudeau rigging the next election.

And then there’s the matter of O’Toole and his O’Toolegans scrapping their boycott of far-right Rebel News, granting exclusive interviews and stories to the hate-mongers. 

The base of the CPC remains old, white, straight and grumpy. After a decade under Harper of biting their tongues while being tantalizingly close to power, the bigotry “without apology” is coming out of the closet, led by creeps like Sloan. O’Toole can kick him out of caucus, but Sloan will be a stone in his shoe for years to come.

No wonder Nazis like Paul Fromm can find a home in the Conservative Party.

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