Last year when Conservative MP Derek Sloan made controversial remarks about Canada’s top public health officer during the party’s leadership race, a number of MPs wanted to boot him out of caucus. Erin O’Toole, who wanted the down-ballot votes of Sloan’s supporters, defended the embattled MP. Nearly a year later, O’Toole is leader, and when the NDP-associated website Press Progress revealed that Sloan received a $130 donation from Frederick P. Fromm, a neo-nazi, O’Toole is now calling for Sloan’s expulsion from caucus. Due to parliamentary reforms enacted during the Harper era, the call to expel Sloan is not that of the leader, but of the caucus members, but the caucus is likely to abide by its leader’s wishes.
Never mind the specifics of the case: that it is not obvious that Frederick P. Fromm was the same person as the racist Paul Fromm (he once held a birthday party for Hitler at a restaurant.) or that the party itself received a portion of the donation and that he was a card-carrying member of the Tories. Why would the skeletal staff of a leadership contender be held to a higher standard than the professional staff of party headquarters?
The move to rid the caucus of Sloan is to send a message to all pro-life and pro-family MPs to keep a lid on these issues. Sloan is the most visible social conservative within the Tory caucus, and he presents a challenge to O’Toole, who is trying to portray the party as “modern and centrist.” The message is clear: pro-lifers are tolerated in the party only if they shut up.