News / Ottawa

Conservative MP doubles down on "anti-Canadian values" concerns

Leadership candidate Kellie Leitch says she will put “forward policies that will make Canada safer, stronger and that will enhance a unified Canadian identity.”

Federal Tory leadership candidate Kellie Leitch's endorsement of a survey that asks whether refugees and other would-be immigrants should be vetted for “anti-Canadian values.” It is raising concerns within the party.

SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Federal Tory leadership candidate Kellie Leitch's endorsement of a survey that asks whether refugees and other would-be immigrants should be vetted for “anti-Canadian values.” It is raising concerns within the party.

OTTAWA—Federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch is doubling down on a controversial survey of party members that asks whether refugees and other would-be immigrants should be vetted for “anti-Canadian values.”

In a written statement issued by her campaign Friday, Leitch defended her move and offered a list of the kinds of “anti-Canadian values” she said ought to be screened out.

“Screening potential immigrants for anti-Canadian values that include intolerance towards other religions, cultures and sexual orientations, violent and/or misogynist behaviour and/or a lack of acceptance of our Canadian tradition of personal and economic freedoms is a policy proposal that I feel very strongly about.”

Leitch – a former Stephen Harper cabinet minister who helped unveil the so-called “barbaric cultural practices” snitch line during the last federal campaign – talked tough about her move.

“In my bid to become the Prime Minister of Canada, I will be putting forward policies that will make Canada safer, stronger and that will enhance a unified Canadian identity.”

“Canadians can expect to hear more, not less from me, on this topic in the coming months.”

However Leitch’s latest comments are raising even red flags for one of her leadership rivals and some Conservative commentators as the party struggles to inspire Canadians’ interest in its leadership contest, and tries to put forward a moderate, tolerant face, distinct from its conservative cousin, the Republican Party, in the U.S. election campaign.

Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong, who is a declared candidate for the leadership, issued a statement Friday criticizing Leitch’s position.

“This suggestion, that some immigrants are ‘anti-Canadian,’ does not represent our Conservative Party or our Canada. In order to win in 2019 we need to build a modern and inclusive Conservative Party that focuses squarely on pocket book issues that matter to Canadians, and not on issues that pit one Canadian against another,” wrote Chong.

Chong cited the public criticism of Leitch by “key Conservatives” including Crestview consultant Chad Rogers, who said Leitch’s survey amounted to “dog-whistle politics.” Rogers tweeted: “certainly Kellie should be screened for Canadian values. Two strikes.”

Chong said “Conservatives need to unite around a fiscally conservative agenda that is inclusive of Canadians from diverse backgrounds.”

Another high-profile and longtime Conservative party supporter and strategist, Tim Powers, echoed Chong’s concerns Friday.

“The Conservative Party's rebuilding efforts shouldn't be based on dividing and defining people. Conservatives need to include people not exclude them. Apparently Kellie Leitch thinks division is the new multiplication. Canadians don't like this style of politics — just ask Stephen Harper,” said Tim Powers, an Ottawa consultant.

The office of Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose said she would offer no comment, saying Ambrose had no intention of wading into it.

Leitch was undeterred by her critics and appeared to blame the media for casting her survey in an unflattering light.

She said it asked “whether or not the government should ‘screen potential immigrants for anti-Canadian values as part of its normal screening for refugees and landed immigrants.’”

“Oftentimes, debating and discussing these complex policies requires tough conversations – conversations that go well beyond media sound bites and simplified labels. I am committed to having these conversations, to debating theses issues and I invite Canadians to give their feedback.

Friday’s statement by Leitch stood in contrast to her teary display of “regret” in a recent CBC interview about her participation in the snitch line announcement. That policy announcement during a campaign when the Conservatives were also pushing a niqab ban during citizenship ceremonies contributed to an impression many voters held, and party members said, painted the Conservative Party as intolerant. Leitch said it overshadowed real concerns about women or children in danger.

Canadian Press first reported about the survey Thursday, noting Leitch’s survey also asked other surprising questions, such as “Do you think Canada's response to terrorist threats should include therapy and counseling for potential terrorists, or should it focus on incarcerating them?”

Another question asks whether swearing allegiance to the Queen should be removed from the oath of citizenship, whether people should be able, as the courts have allowed, to recant that part of the oath after taking it, or, whether someone who recants the pledge to the monarch should lose their citizenship entirely.

The pre-amble to another question states: “Some people say that our politicians and political parties should encourage multi-culturalism that celebrates our differences, while other people say that our politicians and political parties should encourage a unifying Canadian identity based on historic Canadian values.”

The survey allows respondents to choose one or the other, or both, or say they do not know.

Leitch’s campaign manager Nick Kouvalis told CP that more than 8,000 people had responded since it was sent out Tuesday.

OTTAWA—Federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch is doubling down on a controversial survey of party members that asks whether refugees and other would-be immigrants should be vetted for “anti-Canadian values.”

In a written statement issued by her campaign Friday, Leitch defended her move and offered a list of the kinds of “anti-Canadian values” she said ought to be screened out.

“Screening potential immigrants for anti-Canadian values that include intolerance towards other religions, cultures and sexual orientations, violent and/or misogynist behaviour and/or a lack of acceptance of our Canadian tradition of personal and economic freedoms is a policy proposal that I feel very strongly about.”

Leitch – a former Stephen Harper cabinet minister who helped unveil the so-called “barbaric cultural practices” snitch line during the last federal campaign – talked tough about her move.

“In my bid to become the Prime Minister of Canada, I will be putting forward policies that will make Canada safer, stronger and that will enhance a unified Canadian identity.”

“Canadians can expect to hear more, not less from me, on this topic in the coming months.”

However Leitch’s latest comments are raising even red flags for one of her leadership rivals and some Conservative commentators as the party struggles to inspire Canadians’ interest in its leadership contest, and tries to put forward a moderate, tolerant face, distinct from its conservative cousin, the Republican Party, in the U.S. election campaign.

Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong, who is a declared candidate for the leadership, issued a statement Friday criticizing Leitch’s position.

“This suggestion, that some immigrants are ‘anti-Canadian,’ does not represent our Conservative Party or our Canada. In order to win in 2019 we need to build a modern and inclusive Conservative Party that focuses squarely on pocket book issues that matter to Canadians, and not on issues that pit one Canadian against another,” wrote Chong.

Chong cited the public criticism of Leitch by “key Conservatives” including Crestview consultant Chad Rogers, who said Leitch’s survey amounted to “dog-whistle politics.” Rogers tweeted: “certainly Kellie should be screened for Canadian values. Two strikes.”

Chong said “Conservatives need to unite around a fiscally conservative agenda that is inclusive of Canadians from diverse backgrounds.”

Another high-profile and longtime Conservative party supporter and strategist, Tim Powers, echoed Chong’s concerns Friday.

“The Conservative Party's rebuilding efforts shouldn't be based on dividing and defining people. Conservatives need to include people not exclude them. Apparently Kellie Leitch thinks division is the new multiplication. Canadians don't like this style of politics — just ask Stephen Harper,” said Tim Powers, an Ottawa consultant.

The office of Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose said she would offer no comment, saying Ambrose had no intention of wading into it.

Leitch was undeterred by her critics and appeared to blame the media for casting her survey in an unflattering light.

She said it asked “whether or not the government should ‘screen potential immigrants for anti-Canadian values as part of its normal screening for refugees and landed immigrants.’”

“Oftentimes, debating and discussing these complex policies requires tough conversations – conversations that go well beyond media sound bites and simplified labels. I am committed to having these conversations, to debating theses issues and I invite Canadians to give their feedback.

Friday’s statement by Leitch stood in contrast to her teary display of “regret” in a recent CBC interview about her participation in the snitch line announcement. That policy announcement during a campaign when the Conservatives were also pushing a niqab ban during citizenship ceremonies contributed to an impression many voters held, and party members said, painted the Conservative Party as intolerant. Leitch said it overshadowed real concerns about women or children in danger.

Canadian Press first reported about the survey Thursday, noting Leitch’s survey also asked other surprising questions, such as “Do you think Canada's response to terrorist threats should include therapy and counseling for potential terrorists, or should it focus on incarcerating them?”

Another question asks whether swearing allegiance to the Queen should be removed from the oath of citizenship, whether people should be able, as the courts have allowed, to recant that part of the oath after taking it, or, whether someone who recants the pledge to the monarch should lose their citizenship entirely.

The pre-amble to another question states: “Some people say that our politicians and political parties should encourage multi-culturalism that celebrates our differences, while other people say that our politicians and political parties should encourage a unifying Canadian identity based on historic Canadian values.”

The survey allows respondents to choose one or the other, or both, or say they do not know.

Leitch’s campaign manager Nick Kouvalis told CP that more than 8,000 people had responded since it was sent out Tuesday.

More on Metronews.ca