The BC Conservative Debate: Winners and Losers

Written By Elie Cantin-Nantel, Posted on July 11, 2020

Yesterday, the Coonservative EDAs of British Columbia hosted a leadership debate via Zoom. Although all four candidates were invited, Peter MacKay did not show up, making this a three-way debate between Dr. Leslyn Lewis, and MPs Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan.

Candidates were asked eight questions that were provided by party members, and one extra question from the moderator. The topics included climate change, coastal/ocean access, forestry/pump mills, indigenous affairs, housing, money laundering, issues of CCP criticism & racism, along with the problem of cancel culture and restrictions on free speech in Canada. An additional question addressed Trudeau’s new $343 billion deficit & economic recovery.

On climate change, Dr. Lewis mentioned that conservatives must challenge Trudeau on the environment, and cited her masters degree in environmental studies as proof of her greater understanding of environmental issues. Mr. O’Toole started off by (falsely) accusing Dr Lewis of working with Gerald Butts and Kathleen Wynne on green energy projects, whereupon Lewis responded by stating that she had advocated for green energy in African nations, and issued a criticism of solar energy in Canada. Lewis also criticized the O’Toole campaign over an alleged secret carbon tax in his platform. Mr. Sloan dismissed his critics by arguing how his environmental plan was not alarmist, while repeating many times how he would leave the Paris Climate Agreement, a non-binding agreement which aims to keep emissions from resulting in a devastating 2ºC global temperature increase. Sloan also stated how he was against the idea of being carbon neutral by 2050, even though the goal of carbon neutrality is supported by most conservative parties across the globe. Both Lewis and O’Toole attacked Sloan over this, arguing it made little sense not to want to address climate and environmental issues given the increasing effects of climate change.

Concerning coastal and ocean issues, Mr. Sloan stated that he supports repealing the freshwater fish act and would also defund radical environmentalist groups. Mr. O’Toole brought up how Canada needs to become a world leader in spill response. Dr Lewis criticized the tanker ban over the fact it does not apply to the United States, and argued in favour of protecting waterways.

Indigenous issues found themselves to be next on the agenda. All three candidates concurred that providing drinking water to indigenous communities should become a top priority. Sloan was the most vocal on indigenous issues, strongly opposing UNDRIP and proposing to have a sunshine list for band officials making over $100,000 a year. O’Toole and Lewis also agreed that UNDRIP was bad for Canadians indigenous peoples, and that it was, above all else, a tool to be wielded by UN bureaucrats.

Housing, a big concern in British Columbia, followed. Mr. Sloan brought up the fact that mass immigration played a role in causing a housing shortage. All three candidates agreed that foreign buyers were a main cause of the crisis, especially when multiple units are bought and left empty. Dr Lewis went a step further in stating how she would penalize foreign buyers who buy property and leave them vacant. She also said that she would create a separate version of the stress test for first time home buyers.

The candidates were subsequently asked a question on money laundering, as BC was recently hit with such a scandal. Mr O’Toole discussed how laundered money is mostly originating from Asia (China). Sloan said that the CRA would discover more money laundering scandals if they went after big corporations instead of small businesses. Lewis added how she would give border officials greater tools to stop trafficking, and how white collar crime is damaging our institutions and economy. The three then went to talk (and agree) how Trudeau’s latest gun grab is pointless in terms of domestic security.

The candidates were then asked a question concerning the rise in racism towards Canadians of Asian descent due to COVID-19. Mr. Sloan stated that the rise in anti-Asian racism has occurred due to the government’s failure to explicitly call out the Chinese government, the blame thus having fallen on ordinary Chinese people. He added that many Asian-Canadians supported him after he called for Dr. Tam’s firing. Sloan also stated how he would form an anti-Chinese infiltration government unit and shared his concerns about Canada working with Chinese companies to develop a vaccine. Mr. O’Toole criticized the communist ideology of China, arguing that China has become a major oppressor worldwide. In response to the query, Dr. Lewis discussed how Canadians must reject all hatred, but asserted that criticizing Communist China will help us gain back our respect in the international community.

The candidates were then asked their stance on free speech, political correctness, and cancel culture. Mr. Derek Sloan, who has the strongest free speech policy, stated how he would start off by eliminating cancel culture from the Conservative Party. He also discussed how he would create a law that would ban social media censorship, revoke funding from universities that don’t support free-speech, and repeal bills C-16 and C-8. Dr. Leslyn Lewis concurred with these policy proposals. Mr. O’Toole also affirmed his commitment to free speech, although his 50-page platform currently has no free-speech policies (and it is common knowledge at this point in time how his campaign team worked to remove Jim Kahahalios over comments made by the one-time prospective candidate). O’Toole also noted that while he disagrees with conversion therapy, he finds the definitions of Bill C-8 too vague, and that he is concerned about the possibility that it could criminalize parents and pastors. While freedom of speech has been undermined by the two front-runner candidates, a debate poll showed that 60% viewers thought that freedom of expression was the most important issue to them.


Since the debate was running ahead of schedule, the moderator asked an additional question about Trudeau’s deficit and how Canada should return to growing its economy after COVID-19. Mr. O’Toole argued that getting people back to work was paramount, instead of collecting CERB money. Mr. Sloan noted how repealing Bills C-69 and C-48 may give incentives for small businesses in the long-term. Dr. Lewis asserted that while should have had a cost assessment for COVID spending, Canada’s present mission is to create a long-term plan to pay back our debt. In order to do so, Lewis supported cutting red tape for businesses and creating a Canada-first strategy for manufacturing.


The loser of tonight’s debate is (perhaps most obviously) Peter MacKay, who appears to be using the same entitled, arrogant, and undermining techniques as Justin Trudeau. Both MacKay and Trudeau seem to be only interested in attending debates hosted by their elitist friends and establishment organizations. It makes people wonder if MacKay will join Trudeau in skipping federal debates if elected leader, given his similarities with our current Prime Minister.


In my opinion, the clear winner of the BC debate was Dr. Leslyn Lewis, due to the fact that she was consistent all night and abstained from attacking others for political gain. Searches for her name also exploded on Google during and following the debate (see below). It seems like every time Dr. Lewis opens her mouth, her poll numbers increase. As a closing word, I’d like to note that these debates are of paramount importance, and there have sadly not been enough of them in the leadership race. Last night’s debate allowed the candidates to speak directly to the grassroots of the Conservative Party. Let us hope we continue with this trend into the future.


Elie Cantin-Nantel

4 responses to “The BC Conservative Debate: Winners and Losers

  1. Kevin Cribby says:

    I’d vote Lewis for change.

  2. Robert says:

    I disagree i think the leader of the conservative party that stands the best chance of dethroning dictator Trudeau is Slone

  3. Robert Gibson says:

    I knew Dr Lewis would shine in this debate. And she has a woman of her stature will only elevate Canada as a country to live and grow in.

  4. Robert Cameron says:

    Derek Sloan is our only hope to get rid of Trudeau for good. McKay and O’Toole are tools of the current system. Dr. Lewis is interesting but has no experience in politics at all and is running for leader. Last time we had that was O’Leary.