As the World has responded to the threat of Covid-19, we’ve seen some amazing examples of people putting aside partisan difference, coming together, and working to help all of society. We’ve seen numerous examples of people making sacrifices and putting their needs aside for the benefit of their neighbours. It’s the kind of response that really speaks to our better angels and shows what we are capable of when we put our minds to it.
But like with anything else, while some have risen to this moment others have sunk far below it. Some have found new ways to plumb new depths of depravity and ugliness, using a crisis to stoke the worst emotions of some all in an attempt to further their own position. We saw another example of that yesterday from the benches of the Conservative Party of Canada, from a leadership candidate who we have highlighted here a few times for his already notable lowlights. Yes Derek Sloane is back at it again, trafficking again in some of the ugliest politics you can think of:
Yeah, I’d like to say that such a thing would shock me but I’m not that naïve or hopeful. I’m a big believer in the old saying that “When someone shows you who they really are, believe them.” Mr. Sloane keeps showing us this ignorant side of him, over and over again. And now he’s not even veiling it at all, with statements that are just racist. I refuse to believe that he would have made a statement like that about the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada if her name was Theresa Williams.
Sloane has shown that he has no scruples or decency as he tries this long-shot attempt to become the next Conservative leader, but even this is an ugly escalation of those pyric attempts. It’s taking any legitimate criticism of the government’s response to Covid-19, a discussion that will come someday, and takes it to a place where no legitimate politician in this country should. It makes you wonder who he thinks he’s speaking to with such crap. Who is the audience for such garbage, or better put, who is cheering it on? Well, it didn’t take long to go through the replies to that tweet to find this one, which tells you all you need to know:
There it is folks, one of Canada’s most notorious white supremacists cheering Sloane on and repeating his message. That says it all, it really does. For just about any other aspiring candidate in a leadership campaign in this country, having something like that happen would result in immediate retractions, apologies, and every attempt under the sun to distance themselves from that support. The tweets and Facebook posts that spawned the replies would be deleted and the clean up work would be well under way. But given that I’m writing this post over a day and a half after they were posted, and I am still able to post them here tells you that none of that has happened. Sloane isn’t shying away from this, he seems to be embracing it by his refusal to back down from it. That’s all kinds of ugly and it’s deeply dangerous.
We need to remember that none of this is happening in a vacuum and that words like these from Sloane feed into it all. Just yesterday, as this story was making the rounds, another story came out about how Anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise in Vancouver since the fight against Covid-19. Words and thoughts, like the ones that Sloane spews in an attempt to win the Conservative leadership, turn into the actions of others who see inspiration in them. We cannot ignore that, as it adds another ugly aspect to this already ugly story.
But when it comes to next steps, I’m really left to wonder how it is that Mr. Sloane hasn’t been punished in anyway by his party. In this race, the Conservative Party already disqualified Jim Karahalios after he targeted Erin O’Toole’s campaign chair, Walied Soliman, accusing O’Toole of promoting Sharia law by having Soliman on his campaign. That piece of ugly ignorance was enough to toss Karahalios quickly, yet nothing for Sloane? How is attacking someone and casting aspersions about them based on their any religion any different than attacking someone and casting aspersions about them based on their race any different?
Aside from the leadership race, how is Sloane still sitting in the Conservative caucus in Ottawa? It’s not like we can now say this is a lone incident, not after Sloane’s anti-LGBTQ statements on national TV in January. Not after his embrace of Richard Decaire. If this isn’t the third strike against Sloane, then it seems that no one can do anything bad enough to get tossed from the Conservative caucus. Seriously, if this isn’t a stain against the many good, honest, decent Conservative members in that caucus, if this doesn’t push them to call for Sloane to be tossed out on his ass, then what ever will?
And for me, I guess that’s the most perplexing thing. In my time working in Ottawa I’ve gotten to know some members of that Conservative caucus, and while I disagree with many of them on policy, I’ve come to know that many of them are good, decent people. Most of them cringe when they hear the likes of Derek Sloane spewing his crap, all supposedly in the name of their cause. They are as repulsed by the things that Sloane has said as much as most Canadians are, yet they find themselves in the same caucus as him. At what point does that group say that “enough is enough”, and they no longer what to have their good names associated with him? I would hope that this would be it, in a moment where Sloane is spewing the kind of ignorance that is getting an attaboy from white supremacists. Now is the time that the Conservatives need to send Sloane packing because if this isn’t a good enough reason, I cringe at the thought of what it will take for that to actually happen.