By Jenn Smith
[Title Artwork by Jessy Renney.]
Those who read my previous article for this publication might recall that I am a transgender activist trying to get a national inquiry into the medical and pharmaceutical “sex reassignment” (aka, transitioning) of children and teens, with a particular although not exclusive focus on our most vulnerable children (autistic children, Foster children, and youths with various psychological and emotional problems who are all transitioning at startlingly disproportionate rates). Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leadership candidate Derek Sloan has sponsored my call for a national inquiry and agreed to table it in the House of Commons, and this is how I have become attached to what I have called “the Derek Sloan Phenomenon.”
I have been involved in the struggle for a National Inquiry now for over three years and have spent the bulk of that time moving through the social conservative and Christian community of British Columbia trying to raise awareness and gather support for my initiative. During the course of these travels I have gotten to know the social conservative community very well, what their concerns are, what their frustrations are, and more recently who they are gravitating towards in terms of the desperate attempt to find a conservative leader who will adequately represent their concerns and values. I have done this while not being a Christian or even a Conservative myself (although having been raised in Conservative Christian foster homes I am very sympathetic to Conservative views). I am naturally more of an anti-corporate anti-establishment centrist, which gives me a very unique perspective on the rise of Derek Sloan.
The Heart of the CPC and Discontent.
I think people within the CPC should be clear that the social conservative element in the party is ultimately the heart of the party that keeps the larger body alive. Fiscal conservatives have controlled the party for a long time, largely by keeping their social conservative base fed on a diet of mere crumbs and table-scraps, while fiscal conservatives gorged themselves insatiably at the tables of power.
The problem of course is that most fiscal conservatives are not social conservatives, but they need the social conservative support and numbers to be able to win elections. But with all of society drifting farther and farther to the social left/liberalism, not to be confused with the fiscal left, leadership within the conservative party of Canada has similarly drifted farther and farther to the social left leaving much of their social conservative base behind.
Frustration within the CPC regarding this trend began most obviously manifesting itself in the most recent election with the defection of Maxime Bernier and the subsequent creation of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC). Although I was a witness to the creation and emergence of the PPC at the grassroots level, had extensive contact and many discussions with PPC members and candidates, supported the concept of a populist party generally, I quite quickly recognized enormous contradictions within the party, perhaps best exemplified by Maxime Bernier himself who was quite clearly not a social conservative (having voted in favor of Bill C16, supported the free speech trampling “Democracy Under Threat” Committee, and proudly marched in the Toronto Gay Pride Parade and said he would do so again) and who has connections (much like Peter MacKay) to the super wealthy political-dynasty-constructing Desmarais family (who “sponsor” politicians on both the right and the left) and other powerful financial interests in Canada and abroad, all while masquerading as a “man of the people.”
In terms of social issues, Bernier seems to be in action more socially liberal than conservative. After a brief but energetic attempt to create a new right wing party under the banner of the PPC, the party’s relatively poor showing and Bernier’s inability to get reelected himself has resulted in many of those people who had defected to the PPC now returning to the CPC desperately looking for some glimmer of social conservative light.
Enter Derek Sloan, whom I only somewhat humorously christened the “SJW dragon slayer” who is now expertly and unapologetically tapping into this discontent within the CPC as well as with social conservatives more generally, and has been quite successfully bringing back to the party many of those defected CPC members who left the party in frustration the last election to join Bernier’s upstart party.
Sloan’s BC Tour and Michael Coren’s Hit Piece.
I have found myself suddenly and somewhat serendipitously swept up into the Derek Sloan phenomenon — largely as a result of his somewhat surprising but much appreciated support of my call for a national inquiry — and I have thus been able to observe the dynamics of what is happening from an outsider’s perspective.
During Sloan’s trip to British Columbia I was able to attend a few of his events. As a transgender person I no doubt stood out like a sore thumb, garnered a few suspicious gazes (perhaps wondering if I was there to cause trouble as so many transgender activists have been prone to doing even at my events), and must have seemed to some almost as if an alien life form. But I detected no overt bigotry or hostility from anybody there and not even the slightest hint of that from Derek Sloan himself who was genuinely courteous.
Apparently timed to coincide with Sloan’s campaign tour, Michael Coren’s article in the Toronto Star on Tuesday displayed a typically vacuous, ill-informed, defamatory and false narrative, that would have you believe Sloan and his Christian followers are all hateful bigots looking to bring back medieval inquisitions. But I, as a transgender person, have not only attended Sloan’s events and talked to his supporters extensively, but I have been interacting with the Christian and Conservative community more generally extensively for years now and can say that such characterizations are egregiously unfair and inaccurate in the vast majority of cases. Yes there are some intolerant radicals, but there are in every community. In fact, and unfortunately, there are few communities more intolerant of different beliefs than the LGBTQ community itself. Where I have encountered intolerance, be it in the Christian community or the LGBT community, I have vocally called it out. But despite having attended multiple Sloan talks, listen to long question and answer periods and meet and greets, there was no instance that would have required calling Derek Sloan out. Derek Sloan is nothing but courteous and respectful to LGBTQ people in person, he merely wants them to respect the right of conservatives to have different beliefs and raise their children the way they want.Anti-Christian Bigotry Within the LGBTQ Community.
Michael Coren would have you believe the LGBTQ community is filled with cowering, timid victims being constantly bullied by mean Christians like Derek Sloan, but the facts are quite different (to confirm this check out this brief footage from LGBTQ activists protesting one of my talks). While the vast majority of Christians are very tolerant, I have found that vast numbers of people in the LGBTQ community (some of whom, such as Kristopher Wells, are helping to design school programs such as SOGI 123) have a vicious almost pathological hatred of Christians and I have documented this on many occasions. LGBTQ activists have shown a powerfully intolerant group think that has even been directed at me for apparent crimes of “wrong think” and they have in that process showered me with hatred and tried to strip me of my identity.Those people in the LGBTQ community throwing stones at Christians would thus do well to realize they are doing so in a glass house. It is long overdue that the LGBTQ community began to learn that toleration is a two-way street. What kind of “inclusion” excludes the rights and beliefs of one of the largest demographics in Canadian society? What kind of love actively promotes hatred of Christians?
Above is a recent tweet from Wells responding to BC Education Minister Rob Fleming’s suggestion to use SOGI 123 resources to enable youths to make remote connections with “trusted” persons at school. Wells appears to be using COVID-19 as a vector to spread the SOGI 123 program to all provinces in Canada. Jenn Smith has referred to SOGI 123 as a “brainwashing program that endangers our most vulnerable children by deliberately confusing them in regard to their gender identity.”
Sloan’s Faith Is Neither Bigoted Nor Irrational.
Coren referred to Sloan’s suggestions that he feels God pointed him into politics as if it is an indication of some sort of extremist lunacy (an odd inference for an allegedly Christian man to make), unfortunately for Coren most Canadians believe in God and some sort of ideas regarding fate and destiny. There is nothing extreme or radical about such views and they really have no qualities that are necessarily any more dangerous than those espoused by positive thinking writers such as Anthony Robbins, who encourage people to believe their success is predetermined. Coren claims to be Christian but such statements suggest he is at best a faux Christian posing as a moderate voice. No legitimate Christian would take issue with such a benign statement of faith.
For my fellow LGBT community members and for the more socially liberal members of the Conservative Party who might be worried (thanks to the spread of hateful anti-Christian propaganda by people such as Wells) that a Sloan victory will result in ovens being fired up to solve the “transgender problem,” I feel quite confident that you can relax. Sloan does not appear to me to be a bigot at all, although he does unapologetically defend the right to hold Conservative and Christian values and protect them, and, sensibly, has agreed that the chemical sterilization of youths is a bad thing and should be made illegal, which I is a transgender person support fully because such permanently altering decisions should be reserved exclusively for adults.
Assessing the Foundations of Sloan’s Populism.
While attending Sloan’s talks, I was able to speak to not only Derek and many of the people attending the events, but also listened to Derek’s message carefully with my trained political ears to try to read between the lines and cracks of what he was saying and paid close attention to how he was responding to the questions put to him. Understanding politicians is not always as straightforward as listening to the words that they are saying but more importantly to words they are not saying and their word choices which can tell you far more about their positions than their actual words.
For my own purposes, Derek Sloan has been the only politician, Conservative or otherwise, in Canada who has been willing to step forward boldly and support my call for a national inquiry into the medical and pharmaceutical transitioning/sterilization of our most vulnerable youths. More and more people inside the CPC hierarchy are beginning to realize that they need to address this issue if they are to retain any credibility as a Conservative force in Canada. Nevertheless, thusfar Sloan has been the only politician in Canada with the courage to step forward on this highly controversial and sensitive issue. If he was unclear previously, Sloan learned quite quickly during my few appearances at his talks that this is a very well known issue of great concern with social conservatives generally. When I alerted the audience in one of his talks to the fact that he was the only politician in Canada willing to call for a national inquiry on this issue it triggered an uproarious standing ovation for him.
The Trump Card: Is Sloan a Trump Clone?
Canada is not the United States, and while there was a MAGA/Trump presence at the Derek Sloan talks, it was recognized by even some of those MAGA-hat wearers that Canada is quite different than the United States and that a Donald Trump approach would not work in Canada no matter how much the Trump supporters might want it to. Canada has had a much more compassionate view of government policy in general than the United States for quite some time and there is no suggestion that those inclinations within the population, even with in the conservative party, are going to change, and any hope to build a bridge and gain crossover support will have to keep the differences between the United States and Canada clearly in mind. Nevertheless comparisons between Sloan and Trump have been made many times, the question is, are they valid?
Derek Sloan is smart enough to realize the political differences between the United States and Canada, thus while he has appreciated the comparisons that have been made to him and Donald Trump he has sensibly tried to downplay that and shave off the rough edges in order to allow him room to move within the Canadian political landscape. Even within the Republican Party Donald Trump has recently lost an enormous amount of support for his frequently divisive tactics, which tends to appeal only to the more hardcore elements of the conservative community. No politician could hope to win an election in Canada in the way the Donald Trump did. Trump’s overtly antagonistic methodologies would prove disastrous on the Canadian political landscape. Derek Sloan is unapologetic in his positions but he is not deliberately offensive.
With all that being said Sloan clearly has many similarities with Trump in the sense that he has portrayed himself as somebody who has come to reform the political establishment. He talked about the “political elite” and “the establishment” and even how he “doesn’t trust government,” which could all be interpreted as a less overt way of suggesting that he is going to “drain the swamp.” Popular discontent with establishment powers and government has become so ubiquitous everywhere, including inside the conservative party, that Sloan understands that this distrust of government has to be addressed in a meaningful way.
While he did talk about his Christian faith, he tended towards presenting that in terms of it giving him a moral framework consistent with traditional values. He was careful, however, to phrase his answers to questions related to religion in a way that left room for the fact that any politician today has to operate in the real world and cannot simply bully their way through all opposition. On the abortion issue, for instance, he talked about his personal opposition to abortion and the need to set some sort of laws in that regard, but also sensibly noted that the first task was to get a conversation going because there would be significant opposition to any moves in that direction. In Michel Coren’s article in The Star he deceptively used inflammatory references to the most extreme fundamentalist language which he attempted to place into the mouth of Derek Sloan, but which are not words I have heard coming from Sloan himself who is much more respectful and cautious in his approach, suggesting a control and sobriety Coren would like readers to believe he does not possess.
As an outsider I was somewhat pleasantly surprised that his much criticized immigration policy is not really as radical as many on the left would want you to believe that it is. There is no suggestion that Sloan wants to build a wall around Canada and hermetically seal it to the outside world. He has merely suggested that we are taking in too many immigrants at a time when our economy is not strong enough to withstand that because it is putting upward pressure on housing prices and downward pressure on wages which harms working classes of all sorts. He has suggested that the current level of approximately 350,000 immigrants per year should be dropped to 150,000 (which is still a very large number and enough to comprise a fairly large city of immigrants every year) presumably at least until housing prices stabilize and the economy improves.
As an outsider, my primary concern with Derek Sloan was whether or not he would be a deliberately polarizing force within the Canadian political landscape much like Donald Trump has become. The last thing we need in society today is more polarization. And while I think he is certainly walking that line at least, my impressions of him are that should he become the leader he will not be as overtly polarizing as Donald trump has become, and I don’t think any of the candidates for the leadership would be with the possible exception of Peter Mackay, although I believe Mackay would be polarizing for different reasons than Donald Trump having more to do with his arrogance and similarities to Brian Mulroney (another establishment lackey) who single-handedly destroyed the progressive Conservative Party of Canada, and I feel confident Peter MacKay would likely have a similar effect. The Last thing the conservative party needs is a return of that kind of arrogance, I get no such vibes from Derek Sloan whom, unlike Mackay, seems to possess some much needed humility. For social conservatives and other disenchanted conservatives I think Sloan is a much better option than Maxime Bernier whose connections (shared by MacKay) to the elite moneyed establishment will always and should always cause suspicion.
Now I’m only human and my perceptions may ultimately turn out to be incorrect, but again as an outsider who is in a neutral way very familiar with the social conservative community, for those who have been wondering if Derek Sloan is the Canadian Donald Trump, I think the short answer is no, but politically this is necessarily the case. There are many similarities between the two, particularly in regard to tapping into General distrust and discontent both within the conservative party and in Canada more generally, and I think there can be little question that if the hope of the CPC membership is to resuscitate the heart of the party, bring back a lot of those people who defected to the PPC, bridge the gap between fiscal and social conservatives, and thus increase the the chance of a newly unified CPC winning a national election, then Derek Sloan is quite clearly the leading candidate in terms of being able to do that.
I don’t want to plug my personal initiative too much but I would like to end this article by reminding people that I’m trying, now with the assistance of Derek Sloan, to get a national inquiry to stop the medical and pharmaceutical transitioning of children. I thus have provided the link below to the petition that I drafted and Derek Sloan has sponsored calling on the government to launch an investigation into why so many children are identifying as transgender and being permanently sterilized in the process. So I would like to ask the reader to please sign the petition and ask others to do so as well, all we’re asking for is an investigation and nobody on any side of the political spectrum should be opposed to that, except perhaps those who have something to hide.