Kellie Leitch: Playing the ‘Trump Card?’

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J. Stewart Cook’s Canadian Commentary

Kellie Leitch, a Canadian Member of Parliament, is vying for the Leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Ms. Leitch has been compared to Donald Trump (US President-elect) on many occasions, since Canadians see her as the female equivalent of “The Donald.” Coincidence, I think not. Of course! It is all a coincidence. Had Donald Trump not exist, nor had he run for the Presidency of the United States of America under the Republican banner, who would we have compared Kellie Leitch to in the world of politics?

Kellie Leitch may relate and agree to some of Donald Trump’s views and policies, however, she is no Donald Trump and Donald Trump is no Kellie Lietch. Furthermore, Donald Trump came out of nowhere and announced he was running for President of the USA without a constituency.

It is not my intent to write a long biographical review of Ms. Leitch, however, I point out that she was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is well educated, and has had a very diverse career. She graduated from Queen’s University in 1991 with an undergraduate degree. She earned her MD from the University of Toronto in 1994, MBA from Dalhousie University in 1998, and completed the Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program in 2001 at the University of Toronto. She became a fellow of clinical paediatric orthopaedics at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles/University of Southern California in 2002. She was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey in Ontario and was a Cabinet Minister under Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada.

What has caught the ear, or perhaps I should use the word “ire,” of many Canadians is her stand on immigration with respect to a “test” she would like administered to determine if immigrants uphold Canadian values. First, and foremost, what are Canadian values? Ms. Leitch points to the following values, that “she considers quintessentially Canadian: equality of opportunity, hard work, generosity, freedom and tolerance.” Interestingly enough, other Canadians simply state that Canada has no set values. You define your own values. Nevertheless, historically speaking, Canada developed as a “Christian” society, with much of its laws, customs and traditions based on “Judeo-Christian values.” The Fathers of the Canadian Confederation wanted to preserve the cultural and religious character of the two founding communities – French and British. They chose the name Dominion to describe Canada’s Christian heritage.

So, here we are today with one individual publicly stating that “I’m the only candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada who is standing up for Canadian values.”

Are we blind? Perhaps Kellie Leitch “sees” a different approach to immigration and Canadian values that need to be addressed by all Canadians. According to a CBC News poll, it suggests Canadians are right in believing they think very differently than their U.S. neighbours when it comes to multiculturalism. In fact, they are more likely to think minorities should assimilate. In a national polling partnership between CBC and the Angus Reid Institute, 68 per cent of Canadian respondents said minorities should be doing more to fit in with mainstream society instead of keeping their own customs and languages.

Angus Reid goes on to say, “It does seem like a very surprising finding, especially when you consider this is a country that has been living with 45 years of official multiculturalism as government policy. It is maybe not what conventional wisdom might expect. But what these findings show is there are real limits on what Canadians — regardless of their own heritage or walk of life — are prepared to put up with in terms of accommodation and the sense of the mosaic versus the melting pot.” I don’t think Kellie Leitch could ask for anything more. The aforementioned would seem to make it all that more credible to move forward with her initiative.

Perhaps this matter is not as complex as one would think, but we Canadians fear that such approaches only feed resentment towards immigrants. I believe, along with Ms. Leitch, “that her proposal to screen all prospective immigrants for “anti-Canadian values” is a “common-sense approach.” It is also an approach that Donald Trump espoused, simply using,…”common sense.” I can’t help but see a small reflection of Donald Trump in Kellie’s following quote. I added the last few words for emphasis (see parenthesis). “Together we will stand up to those who don’t want to discuss Canadian values and whose politically correct elitism remains tone deaf to the views of most Canadians…With your support, we’ll bring the voice of hardworking Canadians back to Parliament Hill.” (And Make Canada Great Again)!

Different from the USA, we need not make Canada great again. Our differences are “anchored” in our history and culture. We could define Canada with the words echoed by many Canadian mariners…”Steady as she goes Captain.” Yes, there are times when the “political waves” are high, but Canadians always mange to get through the worst “political storms.”

Kellie Leitch is not, by a long shot, wanting to create “political waves.” She is truly expressing a need…that of gauging the adherence to Canadian values by newcomers, in order to ensure that Canada continues to uphold its concept of multiculturalism. There is no doubt in my mind that multiculturalism has been a benefit to Canada. Yes, there are groupings of people who wish to come to this country and bring their own set of values or values accepted in their former homeland. We should not object to such actions, however, we must ensure that they do not contradict our values, nor impede us from promulgating the values Canada has treasured for so long.

I certainly encourage Ms. Leitch to forge ahead with her proposal to screen immigrants for “anti-Canadian values.” I would not place too much emphasis on the words “anti-Canadian values” but rather emphasize what Ms. Leitch is truly conveying, a “unified Canadian identity” that “includes equality of opportunity, hard work, giving back to the community, equality of men and women, as well tolerance for all religions, cultures and sexual orientations and the rejection of violence as a way to solve problems.”

An open-minded discussion on Canadian immigration is long overdue. Let us put aside the rhetoric of “political correctness” and take a “common sense” approach to this matter. Kellie Leitch knows too well that she is placing her political career on the line. There is absolutely no turning back from her perspective. Let us join her and encourage her initiative. Canadians need to remember that these opportunities seldom arise in the Canadian political sphere.

In one of my earlier articles, on the US election, I referred to Donald Trump as the “man with the golden tongue.” He noted…”I am being heard, but am I understood.” Was Donald Trump gifted with superior powers of utterance or persuasion, or perhaps seen as a modern day philosopher, a challenge to France’s Voltaire. Or was he a man of simple words, a public activist, who had the ability to convince the masses that his word was gospel. Clarity was left to the individual to decipher.”

Contrary to Donald Trump, Kellie Leitch need not worry about being understood. The electorate fully understands her position on immigration and her reasoning behind testing new immigrants on Canadian values.

As for playing the “Trump” card? Well, it was never a consideration for Kellie Leitch. She has been “dealt a fine hand,” with an effective strategy to becoming the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and Canada’s next Prime Minister.

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