During the June 17 French-language debate, Conservative Party leadership contender Erin O’Toole said, “As a prime minister, I will defend the rights of people including women to choose for themselves when it comes to abortion. And if you hear anything to the contrary tonight, it will be a lie.” Puzzlingly, this answer came in response to a question about national defense. Earlier, Peter MacKay said to O’Toole: “Your whole campaign is based on lies. Are you pro-choice or what? Tell us, tell us.” O’Toole calls himself a “True Blue Conservative” and has said all types of conservatives, including social conservatives, would be welcome as supporters of the Conservatives. Before the debate, O’Toole had pitched himself as the “second choice” of social conservatives according to a video leaked to the media. Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis – deemed the only supportable candidates by Campaign Life Coalition — are pro-life, while MacKay is pro-abortion. MacKay said during the French debate: “I’m pro-choice. I agree with gay marriage. I can win in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and I can strengthen our base in the West. That’s what we have to do. We have to take a position where we welcome everybody.” Campaign Life Coalition national president told The Interim: “There is no position that ‘welcomes everybody’ when it comes to abortion and same-sex ‘marriage’.” CLC tweeted that “no self-respecting pro-life Conservative should rank O’Toole on the ballot.” Sloan addressed abortion during his opening remarks, saying, “Pregnancy is not a disease; abortion cannot be health care. As prime minister, I would prevent Canada from funding abortions internationally and encourage debate.” During a scrum after the debate, O’Toole reiterated, “I am pro-choice” and “I’ve always said I will defend all rights, including rights for women, that’s a pro-choice position. It’s their decision, not mine, and I will defend their right to make that decision.” Lewis did not mention abortion during the debate but did say more needed to be done to protect the elderly and that family is the “cornerstone of society.”
The second question of the June 18 English debate came from a grassroots member who asked about the role of social conservatives in the CPC, and it was given to Sloan and Lewis during their head-to-head exchange. Sloan said “we cannot be afraid to talk about values,” and “cannot ignore division,” because “the Liberals run divisive campaigns.” He insisted that “social conservatives can win with principled stands.” He added that it is not right that Canada has no abortion law and said that the situation “puts us out of whack with most of the developed world.” Lewis said “social conservatism is a very, very important part of our party” and “traditional and religious values are important to our democracy.” Throughout the evening, Lewis said government should do more to promote family as “the bedrock of our society,” and committed to enacting legislation to protect parental rights. Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay talked about social conservatives when discussing party unity and conceded that social conservatives have a place in their party while offering no policy to attract social conservative support.
Sloan says ‘no right’ to abortion
On June 3, Derek Sloan sent an email to supporters that began: “I am pro-life, without apology.” He stressed that, “Abortion is not health care,” noting, “It destroys lives, dreams, and happiness. It portrays pregnancy as a hopeless situation. It offers the death of a child as the path to freedom.” Sloan then said talk about the right to abortion is a “lie” because “there is no legal ‘right’ to abortion in Canada, no matter how many times certain politicians lie and say that there is.” He explained that Canada has no law after the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s permissive abortion law in 1988. Noting the Court “called on Parliament to put in place new laws,” he said “so far, Parliament has abdicated its responsibility to do so.” Sloan said that abortion would likely never be a settled issue and that he promises to not only permit, but encourage discussion about the issue and would vote for pro-life measures brought before Parliament, including Cathay Wagantall’s private member’s bill outlawing sex-selective abortion. Sloan noted he is offering the “clearest and strongest pro-life policies of all the CPC leadership candidates,” with a comprehensive 12-point pro-life plan. He added that “two candidates, Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole, offer nothing for pro-lifers in their campaign platforms,” and that he hoped “they smarten up, get with the times, and accept the science that life begins at conception.”
Sloan vows to defund pro-abortion groups
In early June when “Defund the Police” was a popular slogan with Black Lives Matter protests in Canada and the United States, Sloan committed to supporting the police but wondered what else might be defunded. He reiterated that he would defund abortion at home and abroad, including the pro-abortion World Health Organization, International Planned Parenthood, and Pride parades. Sloan once again said “Abortion is not healthcare,” and that Justin Trudeau’s agenda of “promoting abortion in other countries is just a new cultural colonialism.”m.”
Sloan stands up for churches
Derek Sloan said in a late-May email to supporters that “God matters to a lot of people.” Sloan said, “during this unprecedented and trying time, we have found ways for people to get their groceries, to get their alcohol, to get their marijuana, and to get their takeout food, all the while observing the protocols of social distancing that keep us safe,” but not churches. “We could – and we should – be allowing religious congregations to use their buildings in the same way, with limited seating and social distancing of course, until it’s safe to allow things to return to ‘normal.’ Emergency powers are intended to keep us safe, not to shred our Charter-guaranteed rights to freedom of conscience and religion and of peaceful assembly.” He called upon the provinces to allow houses of worship to reopen and hold services while adhering to social distancing rules. “This is not a request for special treatment, he wrote, “but a request for equal treatment.” Ontario and Alberta, among other provinces, in late May and early June said that churches and temples could reopen but that they had more restrictions placed on them than did restaurants, bars and stores. Sloan said, “It was a hurtful insult to these Canadians to have their places of worship classified as non-essential by so many provincial governments. This is just the same as telling these people of faith, who put God at the centre of their life, that religious worship is non-essential, that God doesn’t matter.”
Sloan comes out against C-8
Most of the Conservative Party of Canada leadership campaign has been fought online, on social media and through email blasts to supporters and webinars. In a leaked June 2 webinar reported by CTV News, Derek Sloan criticized C-8, the government’s ban on so-called conversion therapy, which would criminalize medical or spiritual counseling to fight unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion. Sloan had also railed against C-8 in an email in March. If passed, C-8 would also prohibit parents from seeking to help their son or daughter from pursuing homosexual or transgender identities. Sloan said that while doctors and families can put children on puberty blockers and amputate healthy sex organs, “The Liberals have said ‘no, you can’t get counselling and if a parent, as a parent, you take your kid to get counseling for this, you can go to jail for five years.’ That’s insane, that’s ridiculous.” He called invasive surgeries and hormone therapy as a form of “child abuse.” Sloan has said that if elected prime minister he would do what the United Kingdom has proposed and ban both sex-change operations and hormone therapy for minors under 18. Peter MacKay, the presumptive frontrunner, said that Sloan’s remarks were “reprehensible,” as both MacKay and Erin O’Toole have endorsed Bill C-8.
Lewis, Sloan oppose unethical vaccines
Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan say they object to coronavirus vaccines made from fetal cells obtained from aborted babies decades ago. In May, Canada’s National Research Council announced it would work with the Chinese research firm CanSinoBio to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine, Ad5-nCoV, co-developed with the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences, employs aborted fetal cells in its research. LifeSiteNewsasked Lewis and Sloan if they approve of vaccines derived from aborted babies and both gave pro-life answers. Lewis said, “Canada should hold itself to the highest ethical standard possible” and “a nation like ours with the creativeness and ingenuity of our doctors should never need to breach ethics in order to make every effort to save lives.” Sloan said using cell lines derived from aborted babies is “reckless and irresponsible.” Sloan said, “Canadians should not have to choose between their health and their conscience.” LifeSiteNewsalso asked Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay about vaccines, but neither responded. Sloan has also come out against a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in order to return to school or work. Lewis tweeted that decisions about vaccinations should be made by individuals and their family physician.