‘‘We need to run on a freedom platform,” – Derek Sloan Dynamic in tough TNC fireside

Written By Roderick Karl G. Addun, Posted on July 30, 2020

The final Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) debate didn’t exactly go off without a hitch, but through fast action by the organizers, the event was still able to go forward.

The debate hosted by the newly formed Independent Press Gallery of Canada (IPG) took a hit early in the afternoon hours before the debate was set to begin when CPC leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis announced she would be unable to attend due to recovering from an ear infection and ongoing fever. 

Peter MacKay shortly after came out and said he would not be participating in the debate if she was not also participating, calling for the debate to be rescheduled. It should be noted Lewis never asked for the debate to be rescheduled or for any other candidate to abandon the IPG event.

That left us with the remaining candidates: Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan, both of whom have impressed in previous debates, to face off in a more assertive interview, dubbed a “fireside chat,” with True North’s Andrew Lawton.

Although both candidates didn’t disappoint, they didn’t have the chance to demonstrate their debating skills, due to True North’s decision to switch the debate to a fireside chat format hours before the debate when Lewis and MacKay formally withdrew.

That said, while both candidates successfully made convincing arguments for CPC members to support them, Derek Sloan stood out better than Erin O’Toole in a variety of areas and maintained a level demeanour in the face of Lawton’s tough questions.

In certain areas, both candidates shared a variety of opinions on the issues of free trade, which both expressed that it is important to only engage in free trade with countries that play by the rules; and on the rising importance of independent media were both expressed.

On fighting Internet cancel culture, however, this is one clear area where Sloan demonstrated more sincerity over O’Toole.

In the areas of freedom of speech vs. cancel culture, Andrew Lawton asked some very hard questions. Derek Sloan was arguably given more difficult questions with more followup on how companies like Twitter, Facebook, or Google could be realistically brought into line with his free speech standards, and how revealing someone else’s personal information on the internet could be made illegal.

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By contrast, Erin O’Toole, when challenged on his controversial role in having fellow candidate Jim Karahalios kicked out of the CPC leadership race earlier in the year he failed to give a satisfactorily explanation for those previously familiar with the situation.

Regarding his role in getting Karahalios ejected from the leadership race, O’Toole said,

“We complained because Mr. Karahalios was lying – lying to thousands of Canadians about me….when he is sending letters to people in our party suggesting I am bringing Sharia Law to Canada, Andrew that’s a lie, and it’s divisive….when you just sending out stuff that is completely fabricated you need to be held to account…”

On the one hand, O’Toole did try and marketed himself as being truly in favour of free speech and against cancel culture; however, it is also out in the open that he played this role in Karahalios’ disqualification.

Although Lawton didn’t follow up and challenge O’Toole on this logical inconsistency, the issue was clearly exposed in this fireside. The explanation O’Toole gave had actually been previously challenged in an interview with Tanya Granic Allen just a couple of weeks ago where O’Toole stumbled in his answer when Karahalios’ letter was put into the context of merely criticizing one specific high ranking member of O’Toole’s campaign team and not the campaign in general.

The way to fight cancel culture is by engaging political and ideological opponents in the realm of ideas, which Lawton points out that O’Toole should have left this decision to CPC voting members to vote for who they think had the better political and ideological arguments. 

Another point where the candidates agreed was over the question of national unity. Both candidates acknowledged the growing dissatisfaction of the Western provinces with confederation is a massive problem, and both O’Toole and Sloan agreed that the media has played a role in exacerbating/ignoring the issue. 

Credit to both candidates is due for underlining this issue, however, in this case, also Sloan goes above and beyond his opponents’ commitments by pointing out the need for deeper systemic changes to remedy the grievances of the separatists in the growing Wexit movement.

Sloan highlighted that the issue goes beyond Bill C-69 and C-48, stating that,

“I hope that Alberta stands for their rights, and I’ve encouraged them to do that, but I also think that we need to more than simply repeal a few bills that Justin Trudeau has brought in. We need to look seriously at how equalization works…on the very based of it we have to make sure that the representation in the House of Commons is adjusted quickly enough to accord to the changing population levels of B.C. and Alberta. We know B.C. and Alberta are underrepresented in relation to even Ontario, and certainly Quebec.”

Oddly enough despite O’Toole’s understanding of Western alienation, Lawton caught O’Toole off guard by pressing him on the issue of the carbon tax, asking him to explain how he can advocate for the scrapping of the carbon tax while promoting his own carbon pricing scheme. 

O’Toole attempted to claim his plan on taxing larger emitters was merely throwing the decision to implement a carbon tax to the provinces, but the line of questioning became quite awkward when Lawton pointed out any taxing of emissions, even solely on big business will affect all Canadians regardless; and that O’Toole’s platform specifically says it is a national pricing plan and not just a framework for the provinces to take the lead.

On the other hand, Sloan was never asked directly about his position on the carbon tax but made it quite clear he opposes all carbon taxes when he stated his opposition and plan to pull Canada out of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

O’Toole on the issue of trade was able to highlight his CANZUK plan to strengthen economic alliances between former commonwealth nations (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom), in part to get away from trading with countries like Communist China and secure safer supply chains.

Sloan’s does not specifically push the CANZUK alliance but supports free trade while trying to promote “made in Canada” policy including reducing business regulations, lowering trade barriers within Canada, as well as putting trade restrictions on Communist China to combat intellectual property theft, “predatory pricing tactics”, and deliberate devaluing of their currency.

Sloan and O’Toole also contrasted on the issue of how to run a federal campaign. O’Toole took the position that Andrew Scheer failed to beat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau because of his social conservatives values. 

O’Toole said, “I think [Andrew Scheer] realized he had some challenges in the last campaign squaring off his personal position and his personal views with how he would act as Prime Minister and leader of the party; I do not.”

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Sloan on the other hand blamed the loss on the CPC and Scheer playing things too safe and being fearful of pushing back on the Liberal and media attacks on socially conservative values, and in doing so handed over control of the election narrative.

Sloan said, “I definitely disagree with running on a platform of boutique tax credits. It needs to be more about values. We need to run on a freedom platform.”

Overall because of Derek Sloan’s smoother and more consistent ability to defend his platform and arguments from Lawton’s hard line of questioning, it was clear that his performance during the interview was superior to Erin O’Toole awkward and sometimes meandering response to tough questions, especially when his public statements seemed out of sync with his official platform.

This more focused style of event is probably exactly what Sloan’s campaign wants, as it essentially allowed him to introduce himself as thoroughly as possible to anyone who had not yet become acquainted with him or his policies. 

Regardless of which of the two men performed better, the most noticeable performance of the night or lack thereof was Peter MacKay for having seemingly once again dodged a debate opportunity –  this time, using Lewis’ recovery from an ear infection and fever as his excuse.

This will be the fourth debate that Peter MacKay has not been in attendance for.

MacKay snubbing the IPG event and all the independent media journalists who attended really raises the question on whether or not he even thinks he has a good chance of winning this leadership race.

Today, True North and the Independent Press Gallery of Canada proved why independent media is so vital in cutting through the political-speak and seeing where politicians actually stand on the issues, or if they are even brave enough to answer the serious questions.

Roderick Karl G. Addun

One response to “‘‘We need to run on a freedom platform,” – Derek Sloan Dynamic in tough TNC fireside”

  1. Catherine Smith says:

    I thought the presentation was excellent. As Candace highlighted in her opening remarks, an event like this takes an enormous amount of preparation and a lot of work with the technical crews to broadcast a first class event. This wasn’t something thrown together in a church basement with a tripod and a video camera! I saw lots of comments on great quality of the visual and audio. Fantastic job everyone! I look forward to more.