Conservative leadership debate offers a chance for undecided voters to learn more

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on July 8, 2020

Tonight there is another regional debate between the Conservative Party leadership candidates on issues that concern British Columbian Conservative members. 

With the election being anyone’s game right now, it is important to reach the many undecided voters that were spawned from the French and English Conservative national debates. Before that set of high profile debates, undecided Conservative voters sat around 14% and afterwards it shot up to 47% in a Leger poll conducted over two days after the debate nights.

Tonight’s debate, although not as high profile as the Conseravtive national debates in Toronto, currently has over 2,500 people signed up to watch. 

The main topics of the debate are listed below.

  1. The Environment

  2. Coastal Resources Management

  3. B.C. Logging Industry

  4. Indigenious Affairs

  5. Affordable Housing

  6. Money Laundering

  7. Community Outreach

  8. Freedom of Expression

One glaringly noticeable thing missing from the debate is one of the four candidates. Just with the greater Toronto area (GTA) debate that took place a couple of weeks ago, Peter MacKay has neglected to show up to face his other leadership opponents.

It isn’t clear whyMacKay won’t be attending another debate, he may see it as an unnecessary risk to open himself up to attack in the debate or he is simply not confident that he has any support to pick up in Western Canada.

This debate will only be featuring Erin O’Toole, Dr. Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.


Veteran MP Erin O’Toole has represented the suburban riding of Durham, which is part of the east edge of the GTA, since 2012. 

O’Toole has been portraying himself in his campaign slogan and marketing as the “true blue Conservative” candidate, but in part, that is more of a statement relative to his opponent Peter MacKay. In reality O’Toole is running a more status quo, and sometimes even progressive leadership campaign based on the policies he is running on.

O’Toole has committed to scrapping the carbon tax, defunding the CBC by 50% moving towards privatization, which some of his competitors have also mentioned, and creating a commonwealth trade partnership called CANZUK, just to name a few of his policies. 

O’Toole’s policies generally would be appealing to those looking for a Conservative candidate mainly focused on the economy.

The area of policy that defies O’Toole’ “true blue” branding is his progressive policies on social issues. O’Toole had voted for Bill C-16, which amended Canada’s Human Rights Act to include protections for gender identity. O’Toole stands by his vote on this piece of legislation, although many opponents of the bill like Jordan Peterson have pointed out C-16 opens the door to compelled speech in Canada.

O’Toole has also stood up for Bill C-8, has said he will march in pride parades as long as police and military are also allowed to openly attend, and has said he is against cancel culture despite making complaints about former candidate Jim Karahalios after he criticized O’Toole’s campaign chair.  

O’Toole’s website’s policy page is linked here.


Dr. Lewis has been running a campaign mainly based on taking a middle ground approach to both economic and social issues during the leadership election.

Dr. Lewis has said she will scrap the carbon tax at the same time she does not want to outright pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Her policy in regards to abortion is also similar where she opposes sex-selective abortion, providing more funding for pregancy care centres (pro-life meternity care), and stands up for conciences rights of healthcare providers but hasn’t gone any further on those issues to date.

Lewis’ policies do have a strong emphasis on the family, providing more seniors care and rights to parents to raise their children as they see fit.

Of course like the other candidates Dr. Lewis also has economic policies that get legislation like Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 out of the way for energy development, as well as lowering taxes and giving better tax breaks for charitable donations.

The campaign strategy Dr. Lewis and her team seem to be pursuing is to give all Conservative voters a little bit of what they want on every issue, but never moving aggressively one way or another with any of her policies.

Dr. Lewis’ website’s policy page is linked here.


Derek Sloan has been the most controversial candidate in this leadership election with a strong emphasis on taking ideologically conservative approaches to all areas of policy and not leaving anything off the table.

Sloan is looking to defund the World Health Organization, parly defund and reform the CBC, defund, pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, lower immigration to ease pressure on urban housing prices, designate ANTIFA as a terrorist organization, and put retirctions on partial birth and sex-selective abortion, among many other policies.

Sloan and his campaign team’s election strategy has been to take strong conservative positions instead of trying to craft policy to appeal to the most Canadains as possible, and then seeking to make a cultural change by pushing the benefits of the policies to those who may initially disagree. 

Like Dr. Lewis, Sloan is also for repealing Bill C-16 and Bill C-8, at one point calling the Liberal’s approach to children with gender dysphoria as “child abuse” for denying parents the ability to provide gender-affirming counsilling.  

Recently Sloan even took these stances a step further by agreeing to support the petition, created by trans-activist Jenn Smith, seeking an inquiry on why vulnerable youths like foster kids (half of which are indigenious), and children with autism are experiencing such high rates of gender dysphoria, which are 15-20 times greater than for the average child.

Sloan’s website’s policy page is linked here.

With very distinct campaigns from one another, this debate should be an interesting watch, even despite Peter MacKay not showing up, there will be a lot of Conservative members watching trying to decide who they want on the top of their ballots.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

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