Life can be a crazy thing folks, if 2020 has taught us anything so far surely that must be one of the lessons. Just when you think some things couldn’t get worse or nuttier, something happens that you never would have expected. Donald Trump telling people to ingest disinfectants to stop Covid-19. Former Conservative MP now apparently offering massages in Calgary. Elon Musk calling basic public health measures fascism. And all of that is just within the last week or so.
Near the top of the crazy list of crazy stories has been the candidacy of Derek Sloan in the Conservative leadership race. He’s made ignorant statement after ignorant statement for months, finally seeming to come to a head yesterday after he refused to take back xenophobic comments about Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health official who he continues to attack, while continually showing an inability to spell her name. News was that he was given an ultimatum by some of his caucus colleagues; apologize to Dr. Tam or your gone. He was given until 6 pm eastern last night, and well what’s come after has been sadly true to form for this who sordid story:
Yep, no apologies there at all. Sure, there’s attempts to explain it away, deflect and blame Justin Trudeau for how people responded to his own ignorant words, but nothing resembling an apology. To borrow a line tweeted by former Conservative staffer Rick Roth last night, “if he wants to manage the issue – he needs two sentences – not 500 words.” It doesn’t take 500 words to deliver a fulsome and proper apology, but it can take that many to try to give a BS explanation that can be used to fund-raise lots of money off of folks who agree with your xenophobic comment. That should tell you all you need to know, that the “apologetically conservative” Sloan will not be apologizing. With that thumbing of the nose towards current Conservative leadership, it seems that other shoes might be willing to drop, but all of them are not the ones you might expect. First for the expected shoe, coming right on time:
Yep, the Conservative Party’s national caucus with hold a virtual meeting tomorrow at 4 pm, with a big topic of discussion being if Sloan should be tossed. Given the reaction of the Conservatives Ontario caucus and of other caucus members, it seems like it will be a lively affair for sure. But while this meeting was an expected thing to come after Sloan basically told Andrew Scheer to go pound sand, another shoe is dropping this afternoon that could throw a curve ball at this whole thing. And with many unexpected things that come from the Blue Team these days, it involves a certain MP from Eastern Ontario:
Ooohh, claims of skullduggery and intrigue, how fitting. Yes, Scott Reid is at it again, being his contrarian self. This time he’s mad for two apparent reasons. Firstly, he’s ticked that someone in the caucus leaked this story to the media. He points to two requests from comment from different media outlets on the meeting, which he says he ghosted. He’s not saying who he thinks leaked it, but he’s pointing his finger at someone in his caucus because, as he pointed out, only caucus members were in that meeting. I’ll leave the weak assumptions in that view aside, given that I worked for three MPs for almost a decade in total, attended a small handful of caucus or regional caucus meetings in that time, yet still knew what happened in more meetings than I attended in person. I never leaked anything, as I respected what I was told in confidence, but the point is that MPs do talk to their staffs about things to some degree. So Scott might want to widen the firing circle a bit more, just a suggesting.
But it’s the second reason that I have found myself chuckling that. He’s claiming that this whole motion is all an attempt by a leadership campaign (unnamed of course) to force Sloan out of caucus, and therefore removing him from the leadership race. According to Reid’s Tweets, the point of this would be to improve said unnamed and unknown leadership candidates’ chances of winning the leadership. Yeah, that’s the situation in the eyes of Reid. I don’t know if it’s hilarious or depressing, but somehow Reid is acting like there are no grounds whatsoever for giving Sloan the heave-ho from their ranks, as if what he said about Dr. Tam and has consistently refused to back off of was perfectly fine. Of course that’s not the case and is completely wrong, but at the same time so completely on-brand for Reid. This is precisely the kind of thing he would do in a moment like this, seemingly be more pissed off at an unnamed and unknown colleague for allegedly leaking (with no apparent direct proof) all in the process of giving his known, named and neighouring colleague who made xenophobic comments an apparent pass.
Adding to that insanity, I do love how in that little stream of Twitter consciousness that Reid just put out into the world, you’ll notice that he didn’t deny that he actually brought the motion to boot Sloan. Twice he referred to the claim that he brought the motion that kicked this all off as “purportedly”, but never does he once say, clearly “No, I didn’t do it”. If he’s so mad about the fact that somethings been leaked, he seems decidedly less pissed about something factually wrong about him being leaked. If he didn’t write that motion, you’d think that he would be screaming from the rooftops, demanding the sacrifice of the cad who dared to besmirch he good name by attaching it to such a motion. But yet, none of that, just a couple meek “purportedlys.”
Given that, I have a theory of my own on this, which seems plausible to me. Maybe Reid did bring that motion forward, having enough of dealing with Sloan and his crap. But then he started getting bombarded by emails from people from groups like the Campaign Life Coalition, the same people who have been openly trying to “save” Sloan’s candidacy. And then faced with that deluge of angry emails, some probably from donors and constituents, he had a change of heart. “No, I had nothing to do with that…. I would never try to toss Derek aside…. It was, it was…. It was a leadership campaign. Yes, it was one of them, it wasn’t me.” I have no proof to back that up. But I worked on Parliament Hill long enough to see MPs skitter and overreact when they get hit with a flood of emails and phone calls from folks whose votes and donations they depend on, and this looks a lot like that.
Anyway, this is another twisted turn in this story; whether if it’s goofy or depressing, I guess that depends on what side of the fence you sit on. And here we are, another twenty-four hours later, and again this story is managing to expose the problems this party needs to face. And like past examples, this is another one that screams of a party trying to do their damnedest to ignore that fact. I guess we’ll see what tomorrow evening brings but something tells me the next twenty-four hours won’t be quiet ones on this front.
UPDATE: 6:45 PM – Well it turns out that the Campaign Life Coalition aren’t the only group out there trying to “save” Derek Sloan’s campaign. I came across this tonight:
Yep, turns out that Real Women of Canada are also trying to put pressure on Conservative MPs to protect Sloan and are also parroting the same language that Sloan and Campaign Life were also using. Can’t help but think that Scott Reid has gotten more than a few emails and calls from this group too. The plot thickens.