By James Tubb 
BELLEVILLE – Local residents would be better off without Derek Sloan representing them in Parliament, Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca says.
Meeting with media on Thursday as part of a virtual meeting with Liberals in the Bay of Quinte riding, Del Duca was candid when asked about the controversial MP for neighbouring Hastings-Lennox and Addington riding. Sloan, who was kicked out of the federal Conservative caucus  last month for accepting a donation from a man widely considered to be a white supremacist, unsuccessfully campaigned for the party’s leadership last year on an ultra-conservative platform.
“As a proud Ontarian who holds very dearly the values of tolerance and embracing and celebrating diversity and respect for one another, Derek Sloan should not be in a position of leadership in our system whether provincially or federally,” Del Duca said.
“I think the people of his own riding, the people of Ontario and the people of Canada would be better off without an individual like Mr. Sloan serving in public office.”
On Thursday, Del Duca met virtually with Bay of Quinte residents and stakeholders alongside Emilie Leneveu, the riding’s Liberal candidate for the next provincial election. The theme of the meeting was the local impacts of COVID-19 and the work the Ontario Liberals are doing to prepare for a grassroots platform consultation.
One topic Del Duca was asked about was a recent inspection blitz by Hastings Prince Edward Public Health  and Ontario Ministry of Labour  inspectors which found that only 46 per cent of businesses in this area were in compliance with COVID-19 requirements. The health unit has so far not released the names of non-compliant businesses.
Asked whether it should do so, Del Duca said it was up to public-health officials.
He added that Conservative Premier Doug Ford should do more to make COVID regulations less confusing.
“Especially during the second wave, the messaging that has been coming from Queen’s Park, from Doug Ford in particular, has been so confusing and so incoherent that it is a struggle … We cannot allow the people of Ontario to be confused if we are going to make it to the other side of this pandemic.”