OPINION: Which Candidate is the Strongest ‘True’ Blue Tory in the Leadership Race

Written By Neil McKenzie-Sutter, Posted on August 5, 2020

It’s well established that Peter MacKay is the Red-Tory candidate running in this year’s leadership race, and although he’s run an arguably successful information/social media campaign stating the opposite, Erin O’Toole is in fact also fairly red himself. 

O’Toole’s record of abstaining from voting on Bill C-16; the controversial compelled speech gender pronouns bill and he also voted in favour of the Bills C-389 and C-279, both focused on gender identity and expression laws, should raise conservative eyebrows. 

More recently, O’Toole’s campaign chair person took heat for publicly stating he was in favour of subconscious bias retraining and racial quotas in the workplace

Grains of sand make a heap as they say, and with Mr. O’Toole there is enough of a sandhill for a keen observer conservative to conclude he isn’t the ‘True Blue’ tory that his marketing team is claiming he is.

That leaves two candidates standing: Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis, who are both satisfactorily conservative and dark blue enough in many respects. 

However, someone should ask which of these two is the most conservative as in this leadership race, arguably more than ever before, Conservative members are looking for candidates to rank that are standing true to the principles held by the grassroots of the party.

In the rest of this piece, I’m going to do a side-by-side comparison of 4 key policy issues of Sloan’s and Lewis I believe are staple issues for Canadian CPC voters in the leadership race, and also for the next general election. 

1. Pro-Life vs Abortion

Sloan and Lewis have been satisfactorily clear in anti-abortion, pro-life stances, although Sloan is on record saying he will allow party members to vote their conscience when it comes to arguably controversial issues like abortion, and the issue also isn’t a 100% ban on abortion with Lewis either. 

But while both candidates come out looking good on this issue and there is some crossover on specific policy ideas, Sloan comes out ahead of Lewis. 

Whereas Lewis features 4 clear policy ideas on her site regarding pro-life issues, Sloan has 12, and it must be said his ideas come across more clearly and appear more assertive on the issue.

2. Firearms Laws

Come election time, the question of firearms rights is sure to be a hot one, considering Trudeau’s fiasco on the horribly spell-checked and rolled out ‘assault-style’ weapons ban earlier this year. 

Both our dark blue prospects have come out strongly in favour of repealing Trudeau’s Order in Council firearms ban.

Again, however, Sloan takes the cake on this one, with a whopping 11 specific points listed on his site regarding how he will expand gun rights for law-abiding Canadians. 

In comparison, while Lewis specifically talks about repealing the recent Liberal gun ban and making more common sense gun laws, past that she includes few specifics on what she will do regarding gun rights.

3 & 4: Oil & Gas, and the Carbon Tax

A recent spat between Lewis and Sloan has exposed probably the biggest ideological/policy difference between the two candidates, and it is significant enough.

The difference is this: while Lewis has committed to repealing Bills C-69, C-48 and abolishing the Carbon Tax, in addition throughout the leadership race Sloan has continually called on all the other candidates (not just Lewis, but also O’Toole and MacKay) to commit to withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Sloan argues if Canada doesn’t withdraw from the PCA, the legal and ideological underpinnings of those bills will remain, and that perhaps a Carbon Tax could be rebranded, and brought back in a different form. 

In recent days, however, Sloan did make a direct criticism of Lewis specifically on her involvement with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, which organization has seen criticism for being too left-leaning.  Sloan called out Lewis for having approved of around $200,000 in grants to the Tides Foundation (now called Makeway) while she was the vice chair of the board, and then later denying they ever received money while she was there.

In her July 30th newsletter entitled ‘Changing Minds,’ Lewis countered Sloan’s criticism by saying she had joined Trillium for the express purpose of pulling the organization ideologically more right-wing, and she’s within her rights to point this out, but the subject of the Tides grants was not mentioned.

Despite this counterpoint by Lewis, though, Lewis still doesn’t manage to set herself apart from the establishment candidates in a distinctive way; her position is exactly in line with Peter MacKay’s, who has promised to scrap the carbon tax and Bills C-69 and C-48. O’Toole comes up slightly short of these two, as he has committed to scrap the carbon tax and repeal Bill C-69, although he has been vague on repealing Bill C-48, but has proposed his own national carbon pricing regime, some say would effectively be its own version of the carbon tax. 

Sloan truly does set himself ahead of all the candidates in this realm by putting the Paris Climate Agreement on the chopping block, which he sees as the root of these other problems. 


Feel free to do your own research, but from my perspective I see Derek Sloan slightly edging Leslyn Lewis as the more ‘true-blue’ conservative in the race.

Don’t misunderstand me: Lewis certainly is blue-blooded, and anyone voting her on so-con issues should feel satisfied with their vote.

However, even though I’ve only picked four issues to focus on here, the general truth I am getting at is this: on all the issues, you’ll find Sloan’s positions are expressed more clearly and spelled out in a more detail and satisfying way, which is a sign that he is unlikely to backtrack if elected as the CPC leader.

Additionally, Sloan leads the entire pack and clearly drives ahead of Lewis on the issue of repealing crushing enviro-alarmist laws and regulations.

That being said, it is important to look beyond policy to how clear a candidate’s path to victory is past the leadership race, and into the general election. 

The fact is Sloan’s slightly sharper edge conservative stance could be used against him in a general election.

Sloan will guarantee a hostile media environment for the CPC if he is nominated leader: remember this interview with Evan Solomon from 2019? This is exactly the kind of frothing at the mouth, crazed reaction the CPC can expect if Sloan is nominated, and he will have to battle the mainstream media in addition to Trudeau and the Liberals, which for some may be a positive.

Lewis on the other hand, has seen literally dozens of positive news pieces released recently, often from outlets you wouldn’t expect to have a positive reaction to a strong, conservative candidate. As an example, here’s a recent profile done by MacLeans.

In theory, it’s possible to see how Lewis could build on this positive media relationship and take advantage of that during a general election, especially considering Trudeau’s sinking popularity.

f the Liberals are dumb enough to run Trudeau again, the main-stream media won’t be able to throw softballs at their former darling anymore without some major foreseeable public backlash. Although there is always the risk that the media will viciously attack anyone who becomes the Conservative leader once they are facing off with Trudeau.

Again, despite going a bit off topic here into the candidates’ relationship with the media, this is mostly supposed to have been a policy-focused article. 

Policies aren’t everything, although they are a good place to start when trying to figure out who a candidate is and what they are willing to fight for.

Neil McKenzie-Sutter

13 responses to “OPINION: Which Candidate is the Strongest ‘True’ Blue Tory in the Leadership Race”

  1. Randy Plett says:

    Derek Sloan is and will be number ONE!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Raisa says:

    DEREK SLOAN 100% my support

  3. Frank says:

    Derek Sloan
    The only true conservative

  4. Frederic says:

    Derek Sloan
    The only true conservative AND the only one that is against what the current government is doing with the pandemic…

  5. Donald Andre Bruneau says:

    I don’t trust Lewis at all.
    She has persistently refused to answer questions put to her by Tanya Granic Allen about her involvement with LEAF, a PROABORTION organization.
    I believe she is out to get the prochoice and prolife votes, and if elected will flipflop to prochoice side.

  6. Lisa says:

    We need someone to out an end to our corrupt government. Someone working for the people. After all they are elected by the people so.. So for those reasons I support Sloan!

  7. Rc Glavind says:

    Derek Sloan for FREEDOM!

  8. Dan Anders CFP, TEP says:

    I was happy to see the way you presented the comparison, chiefly between Sloan and Lewis. McKay and O’Toole are old white guys (I am too, so can speak to this), and have simply too much political baggage to be electable. Sloan is a firebrand, no doubt… but unelectable as PM. Just a younger version of another old white guy. Canadians like their banks and politicians to be stalwart and polite, neither of which can describe Derek Sloan.
    If the CPC is dumb enough to fail to elect Lewis, they lose for another generation, guaranteed! Here is how it plays out, no matter whom the CPC elects: Justin gets tired of the responsibilities of a PM and resigns. The Libs annoint Mark Carney, a globalist elite himself but with serious international credibility and resume. If the CPC doesn’t take a sharp turn here, and elect a highly educated, accomplished business person who also happens to be a woman of color, we will forever be labelled the Party of Stephen Harper. Wake up, CPC. It’s now the time!!!

  9. John Zylstra says:

    Good article.

  10. John Zylstra says:

    to Dan Anders, yes Sloan has definate opinions, more radical and out of the box thinking. But I think he is also polite. Having read his response to Lewis in her explanation about Tides and Trillium, I think he was very polite, and very considerate.

  11. Jay says:

    I totally agree with the view of this article, Solan is also very clearly on his foreign policy, he know how deep that Chinese government infiltration in our system, I believe he is the only one we can choose to stand up.

  12. Mary Withers says:

    Refreshing to read an informative and in my opinion unbiased breakdown of these candidates.Thanks for showing it can still be done.