Former Conservative leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis says the Liberals should worry more about sorting out their own house and less about the fate of Conservative MP Derek Sloan.
Lewis and Sloan were both unsuccessful in their recent bids to become the next Conservative Party leader. After Ontario MP Erin O’Toole won that contest earlier this week, Liberal MP Pam Damoff called on the new leader to turf Sloan from caucus over a series of controversial statements the MP made.
In April, Sloan published a video on his Facebook page in which he questioned whether Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam — who was born in Hong Kong — was working for China.
Before that, Sloan came under fire for saying that “the cause of sexual orientation” was “scientifically unclear.” He also has said he wants Canada to pull out of the UN’s Paris agreement on climate change and withdraw all funding from the World Health Organization.
“Mr. Trudeau should worry about his own caucus,” Lewis told host Vassy Kapelos on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics Thursday evening. “Derek Sloan was elected and if … his constituents feel that they no longer want him, it’s up to them to vote him out.”
“I believe that an election will decide that. I don’t believe that leaders should be telling people in the electorate who is worthy of that particular seat when they’ve been voted in. And as I said, the Liberals have their own issues to contend with.”
Lewis, a social conservative lawyer who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica as a child, impressed many during the leadership contest, finishing first in Saskatchewan and second in Alberta. Since losing to O’Toole, Lewis has said that she intends to run for the Conservatives in the next general election.
“I knew in my heart that there was work that I started that I wanted to complete, and that the only way to do that was to run again,” she said. “But I did have that discussion with Mr. O’Toole also, and he was very encouraging.”
Lewis said that riding associations in both Alberta and Saskatchewan have reached out to her to ask her to be their candidate but she has yet to decide where she will run.
“I’ve narrowed it down and I think I’ll be making a decision next week. But I have to talk to my children and work a few things out related to my family. And I’ll make the best decision for my family and for the party and for the country,” she said.
‘I should earn it’: Lewis
Lewis said that she has not been promised a high-profile position in the party should she win her seat, and she’s not the type of person to ask for one.
“I believe that everything that I gain, I should earn it,” she said. “I even said to [O’Toole] that I’m open to running a contested nomination and I didn’t want to be granted a seat. I wanted to work for whichever riding I picked … and I would welcome anybody who wishes that they want to challenge me in that riding.”
In his first press conference after becoming leader of the Conservatives, O’Toole emphasized his pro-choice position on abortion. Lewis was asked if she has any concerns about her views being represented by the O’Toole leadership.
“People are individuals and they’re entitled to their opinions and Mr. O’Toole is a professional,” Lewis said. “I see his opinion is no different than how I would see myself having an opinion and making sure that I implement the best policies for the country. I have no doubt that Mr. O’Toole is going to do that.”
Asked what she would like to see her party do about systemic racism in Canada, Lewis said that proper policing training could go a long way and she would like to see her party push that idea forward.
“I believe that my party believes that all professionals should have proper training,” she said. “If there is a point in time or incidents occur where we believe that the training needs to be improved in whatever aspect, whether it’s use of force, we could always invest in that and make sure that police officers have proper resources and proper training to deal with various [incidents] … including the heightened tensions around COVID and racialized situations.”