Former Conservative MP James Moore on the expulsion of Derek Sloan, the Conservative Party's future
'I want my prime minister to be offensive to people who are open racists,' Moore said, criticizing Sloan
Former politician James Moore says that MP Derek Sloan's expulsion from the Conservative caucus was a long time coming.
Last April, Sloan publicly criticized Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, claiming that she "failed Canadians" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I thought that moment right there should have been why he should have been expelled," Moore said. Sloan was expelled from the Conservative caucus on Jan. 20 after it was revealed the Ontario MP accepted a donation from a known white nationalist.
Moore, who was first elected a member of Parliament in 2000 and joined the Conservative Party of Canada in 2003, served as a cabinet minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper. After leaving politics in 2015, he has remained a member of the party.
He joined Cross Country Checkup on Sunday as part of the show's regular Ask Me Anything series and took callers' questions on Sloan, the Conservative Party's future and Julie Payette's resignation as governor general.
Here is part of that conversation.
This week, Derek Sloan was expelled from caucus — and this, initiated of course, after news that he had accepted a donation from a white nationalist here in Canada. You were in favour of the expulsion. Why?
To be clear, I don't know Derek Sloan personally. I observe him from the outside — he was not a colleague of mine when I was in the Parliament of Canada.
But I just think that somebody who has been in office for as short a time that he has been, and has had so many run-ins with the truth, so many run-ins with just appropriate, frankly, discourse in public life — and I'm thinking particularly about his attack on Dr. [Theresa] Tam and [he] bluntly questioned her loyalty to Canada, and her competence for the position, because of her ethnicity. I thought that moment right there should have been why he should have been expelled.
He has an explanation about why this donation from a white nationalist was accepted and he tries to explain it away. You know, whatever. The fact that someone who is an open white supremacist, racist, neo-Nazi finds comfort in Derek Sloan is not comforting to me.
As I've said in a few other interviews, I want my prime minister to be offensive to people who are open racists and bigots and homophobes and people who exhibit the tendencies of cruelty and ugliness that only divide society. I want people who hold those views to find my leader offensive and somebody that they should want to stop, not somebody that they should want to sign up for and donate to. And that is not the case here, and that should be more than enough of a red flag on top of the other transgressions.
I want to talk about him for one more moment, though. He ran for the [Conservative] Party leadership. He got 16 per cent of the ballots cast by members of your party. What does that say about the Conservative Party and does it concern you?
I don't think he would get 16 per cent today. But look, he is clearly a charming guy who presented himself well at the time. And also, it was a four-person leadership contest.
So I think a lot of people sort of threw their votes to him, because both Peter McKay and Erin O'Toole, the two principal frontrunners, were seen as certainly socially-moderate voices.
Derek Sloan, and Leslyn Lewis [who] was the fourth candidate, were seen as very strident social conservatives, and I think a lot of people voted for him because they thought, "Well, you know, at least he's an elected member of parliament." Leslyn Lewis is not, even though she did well.
But I think a lot of people voted for Derek Sloan because he ran a competent, disciplined campaign, and did well. But, by the way, he did come in last. He was the first person off the ballot and I don't think he'd get anywhere near that support today.
WATCH | Why Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole sought to remove Derek Sloan
Shortly after the U.S. election, an Angus Reid poll asked Canadians whether they agreed with this statement: the 2020 U.S. election was fair and should not be contested. And according to the poll, 41 per cent of people who identified themselves as Conservative voters disagreed with that statement.
How concerned are you that the politics Donald Trump popularized in the U.S. might also be popular with a significant number of Conservative supporters in Canada?
What concerns me more is this collapse of people, broadly in society, seeking out and being comfortable with consuming news information that runs counter to their instinctive value system. In other words, sheltering yourself from challenging your perspective and views on things.
Happens on the left, happens on the right. It happens everywhere. We've seen it clearly explode more — frankly, violently — in the United States in recent months and years as a result of Donald Trump's presidency, and this weaponization of dishonesty for political impact and consequence. And I think that, to me, is extraordinarily frightening.
Look, as a past Conservative member of Parliament, and as a member of the party, I'm always anxious about the effect of these kinds of forces and what it has on our party.
Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Steve Howard. Q&A edited for length and clarity.