Ontario MP and failed federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch announced on Jan. 23 that she won’t seek re-election in 2019.
This is an unambiguously positive development, particularly for Tories who are horrified by the direction the conservative movement has taken in the U.S.
Leitch is the perfect embodiment of the limited Canadian market for the toxic brand of race-baiting politics that propelled Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency.
Like Trump the billionaire, Leitch falsely touted herself as the anti-elitist candidate.
It’s one thing to pose as a populist when you have zero political experience, like Trump, but Leitch learned the hard way that if you’re an accomplished pediatric surgeon who was a cabinet minister in the previous government, people aren’t going to buy your anti-elitist posturing.
Leitch finished with eight per cent of the vote in the leadership race that Andrew Scheer ultimately won.
She was the public face of a “barbaric cultural practices hotline,” for which she tearfully apologized before doubling down on xenophobic dog whistles in her disastrous leadership campaign.
The best thing that can be said of her infamous proposed “Canadian values” screening test for new immigrants is that it doesn’t make an ounce of sense.
There is no singular definition of Canadian values and Leitch certainly didn’t provide one beyond vague platitudes about gender equality, an issue her party doesn’t have the strongest record on.
If her goal was consistency and not stirring paranoia about “barbaric” Muslim hordes invading our country, then what would she do with Scheer, who’s voted against LGBTQ rights and abortion?
If she’s referring to screening individuals for connections to foreign terrorist groups, as some of her apologists insist, Canada already does that.
Other headline-grabbing proposals of her campaign include legalizing pepper spray to prevent sexual assault, as if the onus is on women to prevent men from assaulting them, and completely defunding the CBC.
It was quite bizarre to see Leitch morph from a moderate Ontario Red Tory into a full blown culture warrior between her election in 2011 and the 2015 election, but that’s what political opportunism does. She just failed miserably at it.
At the end of the day, Canada’s political conversation is better off without her crass dog whistles and shameless opportunism.