We’re in the home stretch of the Conservative Leadership race and before the month is done, Canadians will know who will be the one chosen to lead the Conservative party going forward. Leadership campaigns are grueling events in the best of times, with lots of travel and attempts to get new members to sign on to support your candidate. That task has been made all the more difficult in the time of COVID-19, which has made it interesting to see how different campaigns proceed in this context.
Some candidates have done virtual events, in person voting has been done away with in favour of mail-in ballots and there will be no leadership convention. But while some conventional parts of a typical leadership campaign have gone by the wayside in this circumstance, others have stayed. One has been the practice of candidates travelling and holding campaign events, most small meet and greet type of gatherings. We have seen video and pictures of the various candidates getting around the country, which has seemed odd given what’s going on in the world around us.
But it’s been in watching that approach that an interesting story popped up that jumped out at me. Derek Sloan, the candidate firmly expected to finish last in the race thanks to his attempts to ride his bigoted and anti-science comments to victory, is in my old neck of the woods in Northwestern Ontario. He’s there trying to scare up some votes and meeting with people. That brought him to Fort Frances last night and this morning, which is where this story gets a bit interesting:
According to a report from 93.1 The Border in Fort Frances, Sloan’s campaign had planned a “breakfast session” at Neighbours Modern Diner in the border town. Nothing about that seemed totally out of the ordinary so far, right? Well for reasons that aren’t quite clear in any reporting that I’ve seen so far, Neighbours decided to make a statement about Sloan coming to use their venue for this event. And folks, it was a beautiful one:
Yep folks, in response to this Neighbours pledged to take their profits from all breakfast orders that day and donate them to Borderland Pride, the local pride organization in the Rainy River District. And if you weren’t clear on their views on some of the things that Sloan has spewed, they laid them out very clearly in that post above. That was a very polite way to tell Sloan how they felt about him, his candidacy and those who might support his views and approaches. So with the ball now firmly in Sloan’s court, how did his campaign react?
Yes everyone, the “Conservative without apology” pulled a Sir Robin and ran away and moved the event to a nearby park. It seems that Team Sloan couldn’t bear the thought of the profits from the meals served to him and his supporters going towards a pride organization and instead of staying put, he ran away. Oh the “bravery” of this soon-to-be footnote in Canadian political history, putting his tail between his legs as he slinked way without so much as a statement beyond a spokeperson saying “it was due to unforeseen circumstances”.
Personally, I smiled at the fact that the good folks at Neighbours took the stand that they did but also did it in such an effective way. It showed their support for the local LGBTQ community in the region, along with their support for science and public health, and did it in a way that exposed the fragility of Mr. Sloan and his team. For a wanna be leader who loves to throw around such bombast & rhetoric, he surely can’t take the least bit of pushback, which says a lot about him. So in these hard days where we see intolerant voices like Sloan’s continuing to rise into the public debate, it does warm the heart to see citizens of good hearts and conscious using the platforms they have to speak out. A tip of the hat to Neighbours and to everyone who showed up today to show their support for Borderland Pride; you all made a difference and helped to make our region and country a better place.
UPDATE: 1:24 PM EST: Neighbours had a bit more to say about what happened today, which I am happy to share. Thanks to the fine folks there for what they’ve done and their great donation.