Tory MP Sloan ducks call to apologize for challenging Tam’s loyalty

Tory MP Sloan ducks call to apologize for challenging Tam’s loyalty

OTTAWA — Ontario Conservative MP Derek Sloan held to his leadership campaign slogan of being “Conservative without apology” and refused Wednesday to heed the demands of his fellow MPs to apologize for remarks questioning the loyalty of the country’s chief public health officer.

A motion had been put forward by other Conservative MPs from Ontario during a meeting Tuesday afternoon demanding he apologize or retract his comments. Otherwise, some of the very MPs he wants to lead were prepared to try and get him kicked out of caucus.

But just after the 6 p.m. eastern time deadline they’d set for him to apologize, Sloan issued a statement suggesting his remarks about Dr. Theresa Tam had been “deliberately” mischaracterized by the Liberals.

“I did not — and am not — questioning Dr. Tam’s loyalty to Canada,” he said.

Sloan drew national attention late last week when, in an email to supporters, he criticized Tam’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, citing her work for and reliance upon data from the World Health Organization.

The WHO has come under scrutiny after it emerged that China, where the outbreak of the novel coronavirus began, potentially underreported the extent of illness in that country, in turn tainting the guidance the UN’s health agency was providing to other countries.

Sloan asked whether Tam was working for “China or Canada.”

She was born in Hong Kong, and that question prompted accusations that Sloan was being racist in his approach, as challenging someone’s loyalty is a historical racist trope.

In his statement, Sloan said he never once mentioned Tam’s race or sex in his remarks. He said it is obvious she is employed by Canada, not China, and while she is affiliated with the WHO, doesn’t work for that agency.

“I am sure that she wants what she thinks is best for Canada,” Sloan said.

But Sloan said she is relying on flawed data from the WHO and China, and while ultimately the prime minister is responsible for following her advice, she should still step down for making decisions that have cost Canadian lives.

Sloan was condemned across the political spectrum for his initial remarks, including by some of his fellow MPs who used social media last week to highlight their opposition.

Among them, Conservative Michael Chong. His father immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong.

“While I might not agree with every decision she’s made, I’ve no doubt about her loyalty to Canada,” he wrote of Tam on social media.

“We’re in this together and each one of us is doing their best.”

Chong did not bring forward the motion to kick Sloan out. But it is a piece of legislation that he brought forward several years ago that gives MPs the power to oust one of their own.

The Reform Act, which became law in 2015, gives MPs, and not a party leader, the ability to decide whether a fellow parliamentarian stays or goes.

To remove Sloan, written notice is required from 20 per cent of MPs requesting his membership be reviewed.

Then, a majority must vote to expel him — a vote that must be held by secret ballot.

MPs have been meeting via video or teleconference since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most in-person gatherings across the country. How a secret ballot could be conducted to oust Sloan is unclear.

Sloan is one of only two MPs in the running for leadership. The other is Ontario MP Erin O’Toole, who was also on the call. His campaign had no immediate comment on whether he backed the motion or not.

The other candidates are former MP and cabinet minister Peter MacKay, and Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis.

What support exists for Sloan’s leadership bid from within caucus is unclear.

MacKay leads in endorsements from current MPs, and O’Toole and Lewis also have some declared supporters among elected Conservatives.

Sloan and Lewis, however, do both have the backing of the influential socially conservative group Campaign Life Coalition.

The organization circulated an email to its membership Wednesday asking for their help to “save” Sloan.

They said current leader Andrew Scheer’s refusal to publicly back him, and the fact that other potential leadership candidates were disqualified for controversial comments, does not bode well.

“We cannot allow the party establishment swamp to eliminate a third, socially conservative leadership candidate,” the group wrote in email.

The organizing committee was scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the next steps for the contest, which had been put on hold last month.

A decision is expected by Friday on whether a new election day can be set or further postponement is required.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2020.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at the Rimbey Hospital, and across the province. Photo Submitted
Front-line health care workers on strike across the province, including Rimbey Hospital

The strike is due to cut of 11,000 health care jobs in the province, according to AUPE

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

Ma & Paws Pet Supplies. Facebook/ Ma & Paws Pet Supplies.
Rimbey residents petition for dog park

Request for approval of dog park will be brought up at Tuesday Oct. 27 Town Council meeting.

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Alberta’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. The Alberta government is hoping to get more Albertans employed by moving to limit the number and type of temporary foreign workers it allows into the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta to limit temporary foreign worker program to save jobs for Albertans

Temporary foreign workers already in the province won’t be affected

(Emily Jaycox/Bashaw Star)
Wreath laying ceremony held in Manfred, Alta.

Ceremony marks 64th anniversary of Hungarian revolution, honours settlers

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join AUPE walk outs across the province Monday Oct. 26, 2020. Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer.
City of Wetaskiwin health-care workers strike in protest of province-wide cuts

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join other front line hospital workers across the province in walk-outs.

Most Read