When Donald Trump was elected President, one of my great fears was that his xenophobic know-nothing rhetoric would infect right-of-centre politics in this country.
And right on cue, here comes Derek Sloan, whom I had never heard of before he launched his longshot bid for the Conservative Party leadership, and whom I never hope to hear from again:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau slammed a Conservative MP’s statements questioning the loyalty of Canada’s top doctor to her country as Tory Leader Andrew Scheer refused to comment on the remarks.
Ontario MP Derek Sloan, who is running to replace Mr. Scheer as leader of the Conservative Party, called for Dr. Theresa Tam to be fired in fundraising emails and social media posts this week.
“Dr. Tam must go! Canada must remain sovereign over decisions,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Does she work for Canada or for China,” Mr. Sloan asked in a Facebook video posted late Tuesday.
Mr. Trudeau condemned the remarks in his daily news conference in Ottawa on Thursday.
“Intolerance and racism have no place in our country, Canada has succeeded because of our diversity,” Mr. Trudeau said when asked about Mr. Sloan’s comments and other anti-Asian racism in Canada that has resulted from the pandemic.
I know, a Conservative can’t blow his nose without being accused of racism by Liberals. But Trudeau isn’t wrong about this shameful dual-loyalty smear. This is the kind of rhetoric anti-semites use when they insist they’re just criticizing “the Israel lobby,” or Trump employs against judges who don’t rule his way.
Several Conservative MPs have spoken out against Sloan, though outgoing leader Andrew Scheer is refusing to comment. John Ivison, while acknolwedging several legitimate reasons for criticizing Dr. Tam’s performance, lets Sloan and Scheer have it:
The coded Canada-first language was a thinly disguised appeal for support from the intolerant fringe of the Conservative Party (Tam was born in Hong Kong).
But Sloan has no hope of winning the party’s leadership. He is currently confounding the maxim that there is no such thing as bad publicity and very soon he will fade into foot-notoriety.
My vexation is with the Conservative party establishment.
Even though leader Andrew Scheer is a lame duck, he is still responsible for the credibility of a venerable political party that professes to represent all Canadians.
In a multi-ethnic country where visible minorities make up a quarter of the population, no party tainted by racism can win power.
Yet when Scheer was asked to denounce Sloan’s statement, he turtled, saying he did not want to comment on the behaviour of a leadership candidate. That didn’t stop then interim Conservative Rona Ambrose dumping on Kellie Leitch’s bogus “Canadian values” test in the last leadership go-round.
If Scheer doesn’t see the need to decry comments from a sitting member of caucus that tars all Conservative MPs and the party with the brush of intolerance, he should go now.
Tam can be accused of complacency. She can be denounced for blindly following Tedros Adhonam Ghebreyesus, who finds himself in disrepute for failing to alert the world earlier about COVID-19’s virulence. The WHO’s director general is accused of subordinating his responsibility to protecting China from scrutiny, ignoring warnings about human-to-human transmission and even applauding Chinese president Xi Jinping for “timely and effective measures in dealing with the epidemic”.
But Sloan didn’t just question Tam’s competence, he queried her loyalty. He did it for leadership votes from conspiracy theorists and survivalists, who fear gun bans, internment and a UN invasion.
I was kind of relieved when Maxime Bernier founded his own party, figuring he’d take the kookier elements of the CPC with him. Sloan didn’t take the bait, but even if he is a sitting MP, I’m fine with letting the People’s Party have him.