I was deeply troubled when Kellie Leitch came up with a proposal to screen immigrants for "anti-Canadian values."
The initiative by the Conservative leadership candidate is an ugly form of prejudice that one doesn't expect from a highly-educated politician.
When her ancestors immigrated to Canada they were not screened for "anti-Canadian values" before they were allowed to enter the country.
This line of questioning is troublesome and carries prejudicial undertone. As CBC reporter Aaron Wherry asked, how would we screen for beliefs?
Would immigrants be asked to confirm their agreement with a series of statements about equality? How would we know they were telling the truth? Would we hook them up to a lie detector? Would we have public servants checking Twitter histories and Facebook profiles for evidence of intolerance or unacceptable views?
Are we comfortable with the idea of regulating beliefs? Who defines the values and how they will be measured? How specific would we get?
Would immigrants have to be fully supportive of same-sex marriage? (To pick a right that Conservative party members have only just come around to not opposing and which some current Canadian citizens still don't support.) What about transgender rights? (To pick an issue that Parliament will soon be considering.)
What constitutes an intolerance for economic freedom? Would that rule out socialists? What about anyone with an inclination to vote for the NDP?
What great benefit would we derive from the effort? And what would be the effect of such a test?
We might, for instance, imagine that living in Canada could open up the mind of a homophobe, or at least provide his or her children with a good atmosphere in which to grow up.
But, while we're on the topic, what of the bigots and misogynists who were born here?
Before lecturing others on values, the Conservatives themselves need to learn about human values which they have abandoned.
They have been dehumanizing people who happen to look different from them. Their divisive values have led to animosity and hate, turning citizens against each other.
They have spread fear and hate against minorities, especially Muslims. They climb the ladder by dividing people and turning them against those who happens to look and pray differently.
Even high ranking officials in Kellie Leitch's party like Conservative strategist Chad Rogers have rejected her initiative and called on Leitch to withdraw her candidacy.
"She's done something stupid and if she apologizes now and leaves the race, she has a chance to rebuild her reputation within the party," he said.
Michael Chong, a fellow leadership candidate also criticized this proposal saying that "this suggestion, that some immigrants are "anti-Canadian," does not represent our Conservative Party or our Canada."
"The language and context that Kellie used has led key Conservatives, including Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper's former director of policy, to criticize this move as the worst of dog-whistle politics."
Interim-leader Rona Ambrose has since joined Chong in questioning Leitch's proposal, noting there are already criminal background checks for potential immigrants.
Ms. Leitch is outright dangerous to Canada's multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious mosaic of citizens. She looks like the looming shadow of Donald Trump, and in a civilized nation like Canada, she is totally unfit to hold any responsible public office, let alone become the leader of a major Canadian party.
She is nothing more than a closet hatemonger, who even promoted the dark ages Conservative efforts to establish a tip line for so-called "barbaric cultural practices."
It is interesting to note that while she expressed regret for that position, even becoming visibly emotional during a CBC interview, she then flip-flopped at another interview when she told the Saskatoon Star Phoenix that barbaric cultural practices tip line was a good idea which "we failed to articulate."
Canada is a multicultural society which has been built by immigrants including the ancestors of Ms. Leitch who were not screened for "until Canadian values."
Bigotry and xenophobia, once again is being clothed with chauvinism. We should not underestimate what this kind of bigotry could take us to. This kind of intolerance was what gave birth to leaders like Hitler, Stalin and Mao. It was what led to dark chapters in our history from slavery in the U.S. to injustices done to Japanese and others during the Second World War.
If Ms. Leitch is indeed determined to teach people about values, she should start with her own party first and train the right-wing politicians to show respect to people who don't look like them. They should not forget that they themselves were immigrants at one point in their ancestral history.
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