Politics

Social conservative MP Derek Sloan running for Conservative leadership, promises 'bold ideas'

A second Conservative MP - the relatively unknown rookie Derek Sloan - says he's jumping into the party's leadership race and is promising "bold platforms on everything."

Sloan is trying to position himself as an alternative to 'boring" candidates'

Conservative MP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington Derek Sloan says he's going to enter the Conservative leadership contest. (Conservative Party of Canada/The Canadian Press)

MP Derek Sloan can count on two hands the number of days he's spent in the House of Commons. But the newly elected Ontario MP insists that won't hold him back in the Conservative leadership race.

"Let's say you had someone who had the cabinet experience ... but they're kind of boring and their ideas are same-old, versus someone who has bold ideas and is more engaging," he said.

"I would say the playing field would be almost level at that point."

The Belleville, Ont.-area MP is the second member of Conservative caucus to announce he's running for the leadership; MP Marilyn Gladu is also running. And while they haven't officially announced, both Erin O'Toole and Pierre Poilievre are organizing leadership campaigns and are expected to make their bids official in the coming days.

Businessman Rick Peterson announced Wednesday he would make another attempt for the party leadership. He finished 12th in a 14-person race in 2017.

Former interim leader Rona Ambrose, meanwhile, put an end to speculation about her interest in the job today, confirming in a Facebook post that she will not run.

Sloan, a lawyer and former small business owner, said he has a list of "30, 40 bold ideas on anything conceivable that I've been able to come up with," including tax cuts and poverty among seniors. But he said he won't reveal any of them until the leadership campaign is officially underway.

Not 'the' social conservative candidate

Sloan said he identifies as a social conservative — but doesn't want to typecast himself as the race's designated so-con candidate.

"I'm not running specially to only make a point on those areas, although I am a social conservative and I have opinions," he said.

Still, Sloan argues there's a legal vacuum on abortion in Canada and Canadians deserve to see the issue debated by their representatives.

The Conservative Party's constitution doesn't allow a Conservative government to bring forward a bill on abortion, he said — so any change would have to come from an individual MP putting forward a private member's bill.

"Bring on the discussion, bring on the debate," he said.

Unlike many members of the Conservative caucus, Sloan said that while he favours balanced budgets, a return to balance would not be his priority as Conservative leader.

"I'm more of a 'build the right structure and things will take care of themselves' [candidate]," he said.

The right tax cuts and economic policy would create an economy robust enough to drive the federal budget toward balance, he said.

'Bold platforms on everything'

"I got into politics for one reason, and that is to make the Conservative party the dominant force in the country," he said, adding the party can't rely on being Canadians' first alternative "when the Liberals mess up."

That can be achieved, he said, if the Conservatives have "bold platforms on everything."

Sloan said he's been "aggressively" taking French lessons and describes his own French as mid- to high-level intermediate.

He did agree to answer one question from CBC News in French; he stumbled during his response, then laughed and described it as "vaguely intelligible."

Sloan said he considers himself "officially" in the race, although he's still completing the paperwork and collecting the members' signatures required by the party. The Conservative Party's first deadline — when candidates have to come up with $25,000 and 1,000 signatures from party members — is Feb 27.

Sloan insisted he's in for the long haul.

"I'm absolutely in it to win it. Frankly, there's no other reason to be in it."

Who's running - and who's not - for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. (CBC News)

About the Author

Catherine Cullen

Parliamentary Bureau

Catherine Cullen is a senior reporter covering politics and Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

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