Derek Sloan dials back attack on Canada’s top doctor but stops short of an apology

A Conservative MP and party leadership candidate who has come under fire from his own caucus colleagues over a verbal attack on Canada’s chief public health officer issued a statement today that stopped short of an apology.

Derek Sloan, whose leadership campaign motto is “Conservative — Without Apology,” represents the eastern Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington.

Last week, he posted a message and video on Facebook and Twitter claiming Dr. Theresa Tam had “failed Canadians” through her performance during the pandemic and asking if she works “for Canada or for China.”

“Dr. Tam must go! Canada must remain sovereign over decisions,” Sloan continued. “The UN, the WHO and Chinese Communist propaganda must never again have a say over Canada’s public health!”

A conference call today between members of the Conservative Party’s Ontario caucus on the subject of Sloan’s comments was described by sources as “very heated.” The MPs pressed Sloan to apologize for questioning Tam’s loyalty.

Ontario MP Scott Reid put a motion forward for a vote by Ontario MPs calling on Sloan to apologize. According to sources, the only MPs to vote against the motion were Sloan himself and his fellow leadership candidate Erin O’Toole.

Sloan spoke during the call. Sources said that, rather than apologize for his words, the MP claimed that asking if Tam worked for China was meant to be “rhetorical”.

Sloan ran with that explanation in his statement earlier today.

“The question regarding whether she works ‘for Canada’ or ‘for China’ was a rhetorical question. Sure, I could have just as easily asked, does she work ‘for Canada’ or ‘for the World Health Organization,'” said Sloan in his statement. 

“Obviously, Dr. Tam is employed by Canada, and not China. While she is strongly affiliated with the World Health Organization, she is clearly employed by Canada, not the WHO.”

Sloan said that he doesn’t question Tam’s “intentions” and believes “she wants what she thinks is best for Canada.” The MP said he is questioning not her loyalty but the value of her advice.

“I remain greatly concerned that Dr. Theresa Tam still holds the position of chief public health officer of Canada,” he said. “With such a disastrous work track record, I once again call for her to step down immediately.”