Politics

Conservative MP Derek Sloan defiant ahead of removal vote over campaign donation

Conservative MPs will vote on whether to expel eastern Ontario MP Derek Sloan from the party caucus on Wednesday morning in response to Sloan accepting a donation from a notorious white nationalist during his bid to lead the party.

Erin O'Toole leading effort after learning Sloan received contribution from white nationalist Paul Fromm

Conservative MP Derek Sloan attends a Conservative caucus retreat on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 24, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Conservative MPs will vote on whether to expel eastern Ontario MP Derek Sloan from the party caucus on Wednesday morning in response to Sloan accepting a donation from a notorious white nationalist during his bid to lead the party.

More than two dozen of the 121 sitting Conservative MPs have signed a letter requesting a review of Sloan's membership — the first of two steps required to eject a caucus member under party rules — according to multiple Conservative sources who spoke to CBC News on condition they not be named.

Two sources said the meeting where MPs will vote by secret ballot will take place at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday. 

Conservative Party Leader Erin O'Toole initiated the process to remove Sloan on Monday shortly after news emerged that Paul Fromm — who is widely regarded as a white supremacist and has ties to neo-Nazi causes — had contributed $131 to Sloan's leadership campaign. 

The donation, which was made under the name Frederick P. Fromm, was first reported by PressProgress, a non-profit news website funded by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute.

O'Toole justified his move by saying there is no place for racism in the Conservative Party. 

Sloan vows to challenge ouster

In an interview with CBC News, Sloan said he plans to fight back at Wednesday's meeting and has been reaching out to caucus colleagues to make his case.

Sloan said he was unaware of the source of the donation because Fromm used his full name and that his campaign received far too many individual donations to vet each and every one. Sloan said he still doesn't know much about Fromm other than the fact that he is tied to groups that are considered racist.

"I'm in an interracial marriage, so I, of course, condemn racism, condemn hatred of any kind," he said.

Sloan accused O'Toole and the Conservative Party of hypocrisy, pointing out that Fromm was accepted as a member of the party and voted in its 2020 leadership election without raising any red flags with party officials or the other candidates — O'Toole included.

"By their own standards, they are more guilty than I am," he said.

In a statement to CBC News, Conservative Party director of communications Cory Hann said it was Sloan's campaign that sold the party membership to Fromm. He said the party would be revoking Fromm's membership and returning the funds.

However, Sloan countered that new members who signed up for a membership through a leadership campaign website like his were directed to the party's main website. He added that the party processed contributions and membership fees, not leadership candidates.

Controversial candidate and MP

Sloan, who was elected in 2019 to represent the riding of Hastings—Lennox and Addington, is a polarizing figure who attracted controversy during the leadership campaign with his socially conservative views on such topics as sexual orientation and conversion therapy. He came under fire from his own colleagues in April after he questioned whether Canada's chief public health officer was working for China.

The move to eject Sloan represents something of an about-face for O'Toole. During the leadership race, O'Toole told MPs that Sloan ought not to be kicked out of caucus over the remarks he made about Tam — and even bought ads on social media defending that position.

But O'Toole has stated he wants to build a more inclusive Conservative Party. Just days ago, he released a lengthy statement saying there is "no place for the far right" in the party and pushing back at Liberal attempts to link his party to Trump-style politics.

In his statement, O'Toole asserted his own views on such issues as abortion, gay rights and reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada, while insisting that his party is not beholden to right-wing extremists and hatemongers.

WATCH | Former cabinet minister urges Conservatives to 'get rid of Derek Sloan':

James Moore urges Conservatives to 'get rid of Derek Sloan'

Power and Politics

1 month ago
1:41
Former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore says his party should remove Derek Sloan from caucus. 1:41

Some in party circles are questioning the decision to move against Sloan in response to Fromm's donation.

"That he plays silly bugger word games that homosexuality is a choice should have disqualified him. But kicking him out over a donation from a racist who disguised his identity? So many good reasons to kick him out. Not sure this is one," wrote Chisholm Pothier on Twitter. Pothier worked on Conservative leadership candidate Peter MacKay's campaign and has a long history in provincial and federal conservative politics.

"Glad he's gone. But ends justifying the means is easy, principled politics is hard."

O'Toole doesn't have the authority to unilaterally remove an MP from caucus. Under the Reform Act, an MP can only be expelled from caucus after 20 per cent of caucus members formally request a membership review and after a majority vote in favour of removal.

The party leader does, however, have the authority to prevent Sloan from running under the Conservative banner in future elections — a power he has said he'll invoke.

If removed from caucus, Sloan said he will continue to fight for conservative values.

"I'm not going to go quietly into the night," he said.

Speaking to reporters earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Liberal Party has called on the Conservatives to remove Sloan from its caucus for months due to "unacceptable comments" he has made in the past.

WATCH | Trudeau is asked about controversial Conservative MP Derek Sloan:

Trudeau is asked about controversial Conservative MP Derek Sloan

1 month ago
2:17
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with reporters outside Rideau Cottage on Tuesday. 2:17

"Political parties need to remain vigilant — particularly in the wake of what we see in the United States — from the infiltration or the active presence of fringe or extremist, or violent or unacceptable or intolerant elements, " Trudeau said.

"We are pleased that Erin O'Toole has finally decided to take leadership. We'll see how that unfolds."

Trudeau himself faced questions about why two groups run by Fromm received COVID-19 relief money through the Canada emergency wage subsidy. In response, Trudeau said the federal government moved quickly to set up relief programs with broad eligibility and that the Canada Revenue Agency is conducting due diligence after the fact to make sure all individuals and organizations who received money actually qualified.

"There is no place for the far right in our party." That's a quote from a statement released on Sunday by Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, where he condemns the riot in the U.S. Capitol and paints a moderate picture of the Conservative Party under his leadership. On the heels of the statement, PressProgress revealed that MP Derek Sloan accepted a donation from a notorious white supremacist, leading O'Toole to move to oust Sloan from the Conservative party. Today, CBC parliamentary hill journalist Aaron Wherry on why O'Toole felt he had to declare the Conservatives to be "sitting squarely in the centre of Canadian politics" and what it says about him and the party he leads. 19:11

With files from Catherine Cullen, Hannah Thibedeau and the Canadian Press

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