HodgePodge by Charlie Hodge – Mark me down as a no Mr. Sloan

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Mark me down as a no, Mr. Sloan. You will not get my vote.

I was stultified by the picture and the stupidity of the event. Then, what I’d previously viewed as absurdly funny became scary as the reality of what I was looking at sunk in. A supposed ‘leader’ in our country organized a public event with the potential to be deadly dangerous – and then did nothing to assure the health of those at the event or elsewhere in the community.

Monday night Derek Sloan, candidate for the leadership of the Federal Conservative party held a rally at a private residence in south-east Kelowna. The event gathered far more than the provincially mandated maximum of 50 people. Based on a photograph much of the crowd was closely huddled side by side in lawn chairs. Few were wearing masks.

According to Castanet writer Wayne Moore neighbours on Jean Road and McClain Road contacted Castanet Monday night expressing their frustration and concern with the large number of cars parked along their roads. Some described the event gathering as ‘inappropriate’.

Ironically the large crowd, zero distancing, and lack of masks were confirmed by a picture tweeted out by Sloan.

Sloan has adamantly claimed he is opposed to making the wearing of masks mandatory.

Sloan has likewise suggested he would pull Canada’s funding from the World Health Organization and attacked Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal government for not being harsh enough on China where he states the virus originated. Back in April Sloan came under criticism (even by some of his own party members) for asking whether Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam (an Asian-Canadian) works for Canada or China.

Shades of Donald Trump?

I find it staggering if not strategically stupid that anyone seeking a party leadership would disregard the recommendations of two health officers by blatantly ignoring guidelines on crowd sizes or social distancing, let alone masks. I am equally concerned to see so many party members or supporters ignoring logical caution and taking part in such an event.

Clearly the people who attended the rally (at least those within the photograph) concur with the beliefs of Sloan. What is most concerning is how many of them went home to families or back to their jobs without the slightest concern that they may have exposed themselves to COVID and are now passing it on.

Many of us shake our head in disbelief at the denial and dangerous antics of the clearly unstable president of the United States for his ostrich head in the sand approach to COVID19. It seems Mr. Sloan may carry a lot of those beliefs.

COVID is real Mr. Sloan and people are dying from it, even in this province.

I maintain it is irresponsible and absurd behaviour for a potential party leader or potential Prime Minister to show such disrespect for professionals such as Dr. Henry or Tam, or to place fellow party members and Canadians at a high level of risk. There is no logical, rational reason for Sloan to not believe his actions were dangerous.

Sloan easily could have held his event yet still had supporters maintain a safe distance or at least wear masks. Because it was an outdoor event on what seems to be a fair size piece of property, Sloan might have welcomed (wrongly) more than 50 people safely distanced. The event was amplified. No excuses.

Instead, Sloan allowed his myopic, illogical thinking to rule his decision making.

Not the sort of stuff a wise, respectful leader should do.

Castanet contacted the local riding’s Federal Conservative MP Tracy Gray about Sloan’s event. While she did not speak to the event specifically, Gray stated everyone should be following the advice of provincial health authorities, “And that includes anyone planning or attending any kinds of events,”

If I was Gray I would be rolling my eyes in frustration as the party struggles to find a new leader. Folks like Sloan may impress a few party members but in the big picture his ostrich thinking will only bury his party’s chances at the polls.

Gray, a person I hold in high regard, will be in for a battle when election day rolls around.

A candidate such as Sloan will not help her cause.

Get a grip Derek, you wield more power and influence than even you clearly recognize. Use it respectfully for the health and safety of others at future events. Error on the side of caution. What if you are wrong about COVID?

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.

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