On October 21, 2019, Derek Nathaniel Sloan was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Ontario riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington, for the Conservative Party of Canada. Friends and family, including his wife, Jennifer, and his children, surrounded Derek as he finally saw victory after a tense hour and a half of waiting after the polls closed. After members of the press and most family and friends had left, Barry W. Bussey, director of Legal Affairs at the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and a Seventh-day Adventist attorney, had a chance to interview Derek.
Barry Bussey: Derek, congratulations on your win.
Derek Sloan: Thanks very much, Barry.
What does this experience mean to you now?
I obviously did this because I thought that God was leading me and that God had placed me in the riding at an opportune time, and a lot of doors opened for me. But at the same time, it has been a long journey: about a year and a half of campaigning — whether for the nomination itself — or while being the candidate to be the MP. It’s been a big investment of emotion and time and so forth. I’m really glad that it has worked out so far; I’m thankful for all of the support I have received.
In the distant past, did you envision yourself as a member of Parliament?
No, I didn’t actually think about it at all until a couple of years ago. In fact, when I was in law school, I started to become aware of certain trends that were going on, and initially I thought I would get into religious liberty work as a lawyer. I interned at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada for a summer, and through that experience I began to be more drawn to politics and began to be more concerned about the trend of intolerance toward people who hold non-mainstream views. That includes people, obviously, of a religious persuasion, but it also includes others as well.
I saw a solidifying of a politically correct acceptance of mainstream views on so many different things, and I felt that people who didn’t fit in were being systematically excluded and discriminated against in certain ways. I felt that this was problematic, and I also felt that the people who were perpetuating that politically correct mindset were very politically active. I felt that people like me — I consider myself an average sort of guy — needed to get involved for the good of our country. I think we need people in leadership who are a little more accepting of the fact that Canada is a diverse country with a variety of different viewpoints and that this is OK.
Have you had a chance to talk to other members of Parliament to know what life is like as an MP?
I have spoken to a few, but I think it is one of those things where you really don’t know until you get there. So I guess we’ll see what happens. It will be an interesting journey!
How has this experience been on your family? Have there been a lot of incursions on the time with your family, and what have you done as a Christian father to be able to alleviate that?
Since the campaign itself started in early September, I’ve obviously been busy from sun-up until I went to bed. It did draw me away from the family during that time. I can say that we have always kept the [Saturday] Sabbath the entire time through the campaign and prior to, and that has been a great time for us to recharge and get together.
You are a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?
What does that mean for you? As far as I know, you are the first Seventh-day Adventist who has ever been elected to Parliament in Canada. What is your reaction to that reality?
I think that Parliament could use a couple of Seventh-day Adventists. Seventh-day Adventists, obviously, have a long history of work on religious liberty. As I have learned in law school, they have great credentials when it comes to appearing at the Supreme Court of Canada with practically any issue relating to religious liberty. They have a lot of “street cred” for appearances at the Supreme Court. I think we could use a couple of politicians to provide that perspective.
What would you say to young Christians who look up to you? Would you recommend politics as a viable career?
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think it’s more than just a “career.” I think that Christians should be more political and get involved. I think that it doesn’t necessarily matter which party. I think that Christians should look at the founding documents of the different parties to see which philosophies appeal to them.
You can get involved at the grassroots level in any party in Canada and have a major impact and a major difference on the policies that get brought forward. If you attend conventions or other sorts of gatherings that these parties have, you can be one of, say, 1,300 people voting on a policy that will eventually be brought before the entire country. So, being involved at the grassroots level as a party member is a phenomenal way to be involved and have a difference and have a say. Your vote matters in that context because you are actually participating in a party that may form government; you are literally having a say in what their policy will be.
If you are just voting in a general election, the policies are already cast, the local person has already been decided. As a local party member, you can decide (a) who is going to run for that party and (b) what policies the party will stand for. I think that is super important.
You are going in as a member of Parliament with a party that is not forming government. You will be in the Opposition. What do you see yourself being able to do?
That’s a really good question. I am going to be fighting for my riding, obviously. I think it will provide a good opportunity to learn the ropes. Being in the Opposition is less pressure, so to speak; it gives you more latitude to learn. A former MP I was speaking with said it was a good place to be a rookie in terms of learning the ropes. So that’s a blessing.
What do you hope for the future?
I have been keeping my eyes open for God’s leading in my life and will see how that materializes in Ottawa and how that manifests itself over the next couple of years. My options are open, and I want to get involved as much as I can and work in my riding as best I can and be the best MP that I can be.
I wish you all the very best and great success in your new career.
Thank you very much. You know, it is surreal, really, to realize that this evening. It has been a long time, and I am interested to see what happens next.
The original version of this interview was published in the December 2019 issue of the Canadian Adventist Messenger.