On Sept 7, 2016 Kellie Leitch posted a tweet in which she shared an article that appeared in Macleans magazine. The article set out her proposal to vet all newcomers to Canada for “anti-Canadian values”.
On January 29, 2017 six Muslim men were murdered in a Quebec mosque by a white Canadian man who apparently harboured anti-Muslim, anti-immigration views.
Kellie Leitch tweeted that her “thoughts and prayers” were with “the victims”. She did not mention the fact that the victims were Muslim or that they’d been murdered in a mosque. Their identities had been erased.
Her “thoughts and prayers” tweet appeared directly beneath her Sept 7, 2016 tweet urging supporters to READ LIKE & SHARE the Macleans article which described her anti-Canadian values screening process.
The screening proposal
On Feb 2, a few days after the slaughter in the mosque, Ms Leitch doubled down on her proposal in a lengthy Facebook post describing her plan “to screen all immigrants, refugees, and visitors to Canada for Canadian values with face-to-face interviews with a trained immigration officer.”
Her plan is based on the following premise:
“Canadians are proud of their country. They are proud of our unified identity and they are proud of shared, historic values.”
“our unified identity”
Until Ms Leitch coined the term, Canadians weren’t aware that they had a unified identity.
Canadians have had a hard time pinning down their Canadian identity (unlike many older countries, Canada’s identity is not synonymous with a dominant ethnic group, for example Germans in Germany) let alone a unified Canadian identity…but that didn’t stop Ms Leitch from deciding we had one.
“shared, historic values”
Ms Leitch says our shared, historic values are “hard work, generosity, freedom, tolerance, equality of individuals, and equality of opportunity”. She says these are “civic values, not ethnic ones” and all those who subscribe to them are welcome in Canada regardless of where they were born.
What Ms Leitch defines as “values” are either personality traits (I work hard/you are a slacker, I am generous/you are miserly) or fundamental rights guaranteed to us under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
They are not values which are defined as individual principles or standards of behavior.
Ms Leitch says Canadians want a leader (Ms Leitch) who will “protect and promote our unified identity (as defined by Ms Leitch) and these shared values (as defined by Ms Leitch).”
She implies these Canadian values are under siege because hundreds of thousands of immigrants and refugees are admitted to Canada each year via a flawed immigration system.
She bases her argument on a book, Points of Entry: How Canada’s Visa Officers Decide Who Gets In, written by Dr Vic Satzewich, a sociology professor at McMaster University.
Ms Leitch claims that Dr Satzewich’s research supports her position that immigration officers, as the first line of defense of Canadian values, should conduct face-to-face interviews with all newcomers to determine whether they harbour anti-Canadian values.
Unfortunately for Ms Leitch, Dr Satzewich vehemently disagrees with her characterization of his work.
In a letter to the Globe & Mail published on Feb 2, 2017, Dr Satzewich said “Kellie Leitch wrongly promotes [my book] to justify her proposal to screen immigrants for Canadian values”. He says Ms Leitch should read “even more sociology”, and offers his book Racism in Canada in which he discusses “the notion of “new racism,” which is a way that politicians are able to use code words to talk about race and justify racist ideas and policies without explicitly using racial terms.”
Dr Satzewich says new racism informed Margaret Thatcher’s “anti-immigrant discourse” and is a key part of Donald Trump’s approach to immigration, and makes this solemn promise: “Rest assured that I will use Dr Leitch and her proposal in the next edition as a Canadian example.”
Ms Leitch says her plan is not racist because it applies equally to all applicants including white supremacists who want to enter Canada. This is bizarre because white supremacists are already here—they’re the ones endorsing Ms Leitch’s screening plan to keep immigrants out.
If Ms Leitch doesn’t realize she’s using “new racism” to deliver racist messages to white supremacists she lacks the sensitivity and the judgment to become the next leader of the CPC.
If Ms Leitch knows she’s using “new racism” to attract supporters she’s engaging in dog-whistle politics and lacks the integrity to become the next leader of the CPC.
In either case it’s time for conservative voters to count her out.