A Liberal MP is pressuring the newly minted Conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, to remove Hastings — Lennox and Addington MP Derek Sloan from the Conservative caucus.
After O’Toole won the leadership race early Monday morning, Pam Damoff, MP for Oakville North-Burlington, posted a letter to her Twitter account Tuesday, pushing the new party leader to denounce Sloan, who came in fourth in the leadership race, bringing in only 14 per cent of the vote.
Damoff says she’s previously worked with O’Toole on the Public Safety Committee, and wanted to give him the opportunity to “do the right thing” by removing Sloan from the party.
“When it comes to the comments that Mr. Sloan said, I think the vast majority of Canadians would agree that they don’t reflect the values of Canadians,” Damoff said in an interview Wednesday.
In her letter, the Oakville North-Burlington MP said if O’Toole failed to remove Sloan from caucus, it would be akin to condoning statements Sloan made throughout the campaign that she called examples of “racism, misogyny and bigotry.”
Sloan was previously pressured to apologize after asking if Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Theresa Tam was working for China, and has made waves with comments about women’s reproductive rights and his thoughts on conversion therapy, examples Damoff used in her letter to O’Toole.
During a press conference Tuesday, O’Toole was asked about Sloan’s controversial comments, especially those directed at Dr. Tam, but declined to say whether he would expel the rookie MP from his caucus.
O’Toole said pressures of a leadership race can bring forth a “contrast of ideas,” but under his leadership, the Conservative Party will be united.
“Derek and I had some very stark differences, we had some areas of overlap with our concern about the communist party of China, I didn’t agree with some of the ways that he characterized some of those concerns, but certainly within a pandemic, within the race we were in, a lot of things were said. We’re united now, we’re going to talk together as a caucus soon,” O’Toole told reporters Tuesday.
Damoff disagreed with O’Toole, saying she felt many of Sloan’s comments were emblematic of his politics.
“You don’t say those kind of things just in the heat of the moment during a campaign,” Damoff said.
On Thursday, Sloan told Global News in an interview that he feels like many of his goals align with those of the new leader.
“We’re united on the need for a new government, we’re united on the need to reign the spending in under control, we’re united on the need to be cautious against communist China in some of their advances in bullying that we see on the national stage,” Sloan said.
For his part, Sloan called Damoff’s letter a political attack piece.
“The timing was such that it was clear that it was a political attack to try to divide the party under its new leadership,” Sloan said.
Sloan said that the items Damoff published were “choice tidbits,” chosen out of context, and that he didn’t believe she made a concentrated effort to go over his leadership campaign in detail.
“The comments that I made are on the public record, and if you look at them, they’re quite thoughtful and articulate, and obviously certain comments were taken out of context, but everything I’ve said has been out in the public view, and I’ve been unapologetic about the views that I have,” Sloan said.
In the end, the MP for Hastings — Lennox and Addington called Damoff’s letter a product of a Liberal electoral strategy.
When asked if Sloan had spoken to O’Toole about the letter, Sloan said that he had spoken to the new leader “several times” since he won, but made no mention of Damoff.
Damoff herself said she has yet to hear a response from O’Toole, but she has received a volume of responses on social media. At first, many were positive, but Damoff says comments have turned ugly.
“It has received a lot of response, but also some that are just so disgusting and I’ve stopped looking at it yesterday. We also have started getting a number of voicemails and emails into my office from people,” she said.