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After Sloan's ouster, other conservative factions wonder what's next for them

Tories wonder who's next

A decision by Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole to boot an MP from his caucus has factions of the conservative movement in Canada wondering about their own futures in the party.

Among them: some firearms advocates, who say they're concerned about what the move may signal for their members who backed O'Toole in last year's leadership race in part on promises to advocate for their cause.

Ontario MP Derek Sloan was removed last week for what O'Toole called a "pattern of destructive behaviour" that was undermining the team.

In his short time as a socially conservative MP and party leadership candidate, Sloan's extreme views have created controversy and O'Toole said the last straw was Sloan's accepting a donation from a known white nationalist.

But the decision to kick him out was seen by some of his supporters as primarily a response to Sloan's efforts to influence the Conservatives' March policy convention via motions that could in turn challenge O'Toole's efforts to expand the party's appeal.

In an interview last week with The Canadian Press, O'Toole denied his move was directly in response to social conservatives' trying to be the dominant force at the convention.

While he led the move to expel Sloan, O'Toole said, ultimately it was a decision Conservative MPs had to make and vote on themselves.

Many, including some who would identify as socially conservative themselves, had expressed frustration since last year's leadership race that Sloan's views on LGBTQ rights and other issues would cost the party support in a general election.

If social conservatives are considered the best-organized faction of the party, the firearms community, colloquially known in party circles as "the gunnies," come in a close second.

Charles Zach, the executive director of the National Firearms Association, said he had no specific comment on Sloan's situation.

But he said O'Toole's move does raise concerns: if he was willing to sideline Sloan, what about the gunnies?

"If that's the way that the next election campaign is going to be run by the CPC, yeah, we're worried that our expectations are not going to be on the radar," he said.

"And where does that leave us?"



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