Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is looking into a donation to the failed leadership campaign of MP Derek Sloan that may have come from a self-described white nationalist.
Frederick P. Fromm donated $131 to the Conservative Party of Canada in August 2020, while the party was in the midst of its leadership race, according to Elections Canada records.
In a statement to CBC News, O’Toole said he was “outraged” by a report from Press Progress, a news website funded by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute. The report states that the donation was from Paul Fromm, who is widely regarded as a white supremacist although he has rejected the label of “neo-Nazi”.
“This individual donated to Derek Sloan’s leadership campaign in August, not to Mr. O’Toole or the Conservative Party,” the party said in a statement to CBC News. “As per the leadership contest rules, the party merely processed the donations of leadership campaigns. Mr. O’Toole is outraged that anyone would accept donations from this individual …”
Fromm, who founded the Canadian Association for Free Expression and Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform, has appeared at far-right protests, has spoken regularly on the white nationalist radio show Stormfront and is the subject of a Hamilton police investigation into claims that he shared the New Zealand mosque shooter’s manifesto on his organization’s website.
Sloan, a social conservative who placed last out of four candidates in the leadership race, said he had been unaware of the donation’s source.
“We disavow anything to do with that type of person or behaviour,” Sloan’s office said in a statement. “As soon as becoming aware of this, we’re attempting to reach out to party headquarters themselves to figure out how to rescind this donation.”
News of the donation came a day after O’Toole released a lengthy statement saying there is “no place for the far right” in the party and pushing back at Liberal attempts to link his party to Trump-style politics.
In his statement, O’Toole asserted his own views on such issues as abortion, gay rights and reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada, while insisting that his party is not beholden to right-wing extremists and hatemongers.
The Tories are holding a virtual caucus retreat on Friday ahead of the return of Parliament on Jan. 25.
Sloan currently sits in the Conservative caucus as MP for the Eastern Ontario riding of Hastings—Lennox and Addington. Some Conservative MPs reportedly pushed for Sloan’s ouster in May after he publicly questioned whether Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam — who was born in Hong Kong — was working for China.
Ultimately, a backbencher put forward a motion calling on him to retract his comments. Sloan insisted that his question had been “rhetorical.”
Sloan also has attracted controversy for his claim that the cause of sexual orientation is “scientifically unclear” and for saying that the Liberal government’s legislation to ban conversion therapy — the discredited practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation with counselling — was tantamount to legalized “child abuse.”