In Canada, it’s usual for Members of Parliament to solicit support by highlighting their achievements in the House of Commons. Success on issues that matter to supportive constituents can inspire donations — hey, that candidate in Parliament gets stuff done!
But former party leadership candidate Derek Sloan is taking a different tack, looking for support based on a piece of legislation that didn’t go his way. He’s spinning it as evidence that Canada will go down a dark path unless his anti-LGBTQ voice “remains in Parliament.”
In a fear-mongering email message sent to his subscribers, Sloan cited Parliament’s near-unanimous support for a federal conversion therapy ban as a reason he needs their donations. It’s not for his own craven, selfish purposes, you see: He needs to “protect Canada’s kids.”
Never mind that the practice of conversion therapy has been proven ineffective and dangerous. Never mind that parental support regardless of a child’s sexual orientation and gender identity has a far greater protective impact than throwing minors in therapy to cure their queerness.
To be clear, several candidates across the parties are highlighting the conversion therapy issue in a bid for financial support. But Sloan is the only one who’s spinning the legislation as a threat rather than a human rights success story.
CBC reporter Catherine Cullen made the contents of the email public yesterday evening:
Sloan said in the e-mail he worries about the effect of the government’s legislation itself, arguing it “would contribute to the massive increase we are seeing with little boys and girls who are being chemically transitioned because of their feelings of gender dysphoria.”
“The vast majority of kids who feel this way will grow out of it,” he wrote, claiming that under the new law, anyone who tries to “help a child feel happy with the body they were born with” could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Like most social conservatives, Sloan can’t conceive of a structure in which adults support a child’s self-discovery process without imposing their will to create a desired outcome. If parents can’t put their thumb on the scales to “fix” their LGBTQ child, the only other option is an interfering lefty therapist who’ll mold Canada’s children in the image of the gay and trans agenda.
That framing pairs handily with less stark rhetoric from elsewhere in the Conservative Party. Party leader Erin O’Toole has expressed concerns about whether the scope of the law allowed parents to be criminalized for discussing sex and gender with their children. But O’Toole wants to have it both ways: Despite those concerns, he has gone on record saying that conversion therapy is a cruel practice that needs to end.
Since Sloan wholeheartedly embraces the lies he repeats, he implicitly contrasts himself against O’Toole, painting the latter as a crass political operative unwilling to speak the unpopular truth. If O’Toole knows the ban could place families in danger, why does he continue to support it? That spin leaves Sloan in the role of folk hero, prepared to take flak for being politically incorrect if it will save even one child from the wicked trans cabal.
That archetype plays well with social conservatives who secretly (or not so secretly) resent that it’s fallen out of fashion to use hateful rhetoric to dehumanize other people.
Strategically, weaponizing an issue that galvanizes social conservatives across Canada is a smart move, potentially allowing him to draw on a base of socially-conservative support well beyond his local constituency. That matters: The Conservative Party of Canada requires candidates running for re-election to demonstrate voter support by raising a minimum amount of funds.
Sloan won’t say whether he’s achieved his goal yet, and the clock is ticking. Electoral rules don’t require a federal election before October 2023, but within Canada’s parliamentary system a non-confidence motion by the Official Opposition could theoretically trigger an election any time. The Trudeau government has already survived one confidence vote; it’s easy to understand why Sloan would be reluctant to roll the dice again.
Nothing about any of this is particularly surprising. Since before the leadership campaign, Sloan has been working hard to make his name synonymous with the socially conservative niche of the Conservative Party. It’s still important, though.
If Sloan has tied his fortunes to anti-LGBTQ hate-mongers, how he fares tells us something more broadly about the state of LGBTQ support in Canada.
(Screenshot via YouTube)