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Derek Sloan announces independent run in Banff-Airdrie

A conservative MP who was ousted from his party's cabinet earlier this year has announced his intention to run for the electoral seat in Banff-Airdrie.
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Derek Sloan announces his intentions to run in the Banff-Airdrie riding from the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre on Aug. 19. (Tyler Klinkhammer/The Cochrane Eagle)

A conservative MP who was ousted from his party's caucus earlier this year has announced his intention to run for the electoral seat in Banff-Airdrie.

Derek Sloan, giving up his position of MP in southeastern Ontario’s Hasting-Lennox and Addington riding, plans to take on four-term Conservative MP Blake Richards as well as five other candidates in Banff-Airdrie in the upcoming federal election. Sloan announced his candidacy during a campaign launch event at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre in Cochrane on Aug. 16.

“We are starting a movement that’s going to spread across the country, but for the next 33 and a half days, we’re going to take a brief hiatus right here in Banff-Airdrie,” Sloan told the crowd.  

During his announcement speech, which was attended by a crowd of about 500 people, Sloan took aim at the Liberals, NDP and even his former Tory colleagues, including the Banff-Airdrie incumbent, Richards.  

“I am disappointed by many Conservative MPs, but some of them deserve more…ire from their constituents than others, and one of them is the MP of this riding, Blake Richards. He’s the whip of Erin O’Toole and he’s carrying O’Toole’s water out here,” Sloan said. “When you take your constituents for granted, when you care more about Ottawa than you do your own constituents, we’re going to come for you.” 

Sloan, running as an independent, said he chose to intentionally run against Richards, adding that vying for votes in Banff-Airdrie will serve as a “shot across the bow” of the Conservative Party. 

“It’s going to be Blake, or it’s going to be me,” he said. “We’ve done our homework, we know how this is shaping up. The NDP or the Liberals, they cannot win. There’s no way.” 

The new Banff-Airdrie hopeful carries a controversial political past, as he was ousted from the federal Conservative Party caucus in January after accepting a $131 campaign donation from self-described white nationalist Paul Fromm. 

“Derek Sloan’s acceptance of a donation from a well-known white supremacist is far worse than a gross error of judgment or a failure of due diligence,” said Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole in a statement at the time. “Racism is a disease of the soul, repugnant to our core values. It has no place in our country. It has no place in the Conservative Party of Canada. I won’t tolerate it.” 

Sloan also faced backlash from his Conservative caucus colleagues last year after he criticized Canada's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Theresa Tam, asking in a Facebook video if she works for Canada or China.

Sloan's arrival in the Banff-Airdrie race means there are four conservative choices for voters to consider, including Sloan, Richards, Maverick Party candidate Tariq Elnaga and People's Party of Canada candidate Nadine Wellwood. The other registered candidates, as of press time, include Liberal Party candidate David Gamble and Green Party candidate Aidan Blum.

In a press release, Wellwood criticized the “Ottawa transplant” for trying to steal a seat from an Albertan. 

“Obviously, Sloan lacks the confidence and the courage to run in his own riding, where he would face a strong Liberal opponent,” Wellwood said. “So, he has decided to come to Alberta in an attempt to steal one of Alberta’s seats, denying an Albertan a voice in the House of Commons.

“Sloan has just proven himself to be another egotistical, selfish Ottawa transplant that sees Albertans as nothing more than an opportunity to advance his own political career.”

Prior to his announcement in Cochrane, Sloan published a post on his Facebook page that said “it's time for change” in Alberta.

“It’s time to put Faith, Family and Freedom first again in this country,” he wrote. “Let’s make Alberta great again.”

The federal election is slated for Sept. 20.