OTTAWA — Conservative MPs may be asked to decide Friday if they believe controversial leadership candidate Derek Sloan should continue to sit in their caucus.
HuffPost Canada has learned Tory MPs who want him ousted gathered the required 25 signatures earlier this week, although the item is not on the formal agenda.
UPDATE: Late Friday afternoon, during the Conservatives’ caucus meeting, leadership candidate Derek Sloan addressed his colleagues. No vote was held to kick him out. Some MPs want him to publicly apologize for his comments regarding Dr. Theresa Tam, something he has so far refused to do.
By Friday afternoon, some MPs had withdrawn their names from the letter, one source said.
Sloan, who has been working the phones to try to convince his colleagues not to boot him out, told HuffPost Friday that he did not want to discuss caucus matters or why he thinks he should remain in the Conservative team.
Watch: Scheer says he doesn’t agree with Sloan’s remarks
“I have some other things I’m doing to prepare for this meeting that we have in a couple of hours so I’m just kind of tight,” Sloan said. “I just don’t feel comfortable making a statement right now.”
Several MPs have confirmed there is a witch hunt, of sorts, happening in the Tory fold to try to stop leaks from their team.
The Conservative caucus is the only party caucus in Ottawa to adopt rules that allow MPs rather than the leader to decide who sits as part of their team. If 20 per cent of the caucus writes to the caucus chair and asks for a vote, a secret ballot is held, with a simple majority vote required to boot someone from the group.
Sloan, a social conservative and freshman Ontario MP, made national headlines last month for his attacks against Canada’s chief public health officer, saying Dr. Theresa Tam should be fired and suggesting her loyalties lie with China rather than Canada.
He has partly tried to walk back that statement saying he was asking a rhetorical question.
This week, Sloan pledged that if elected prime minister he would “outlaw transgender surgery for children across Canada.”
He says he is also the only Conservative leadership candidate opposed to a Liberal government bill criminalizing forced conversion therapy.
The Conservative leadership race will be conducted by mail-in ballot later this summer. Membership cut-off is May 15.
Three others are vying for the post: Ontario MP Erin O’Toole, former Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay and Toronto-area lawyer Leslyn Lewis.