11/13/2016 01:18 EST

Kellie Leitch Denies Endorsing Trump

GREELY, Ont. — Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch says her enthusiasm for Donald Trump does not make her a racist.

During an exchange on CTV's Question Period, rival candidate Michael Chong suggested Leitch was importing the divisive style practised by the U.S. president-elect.

Leitch proposes screening newcomers for Canadian values, and says she shares some ideas with Trump on immigration.

The exchange comes as candidates for party chief prepare to debate today at a conference centre just south of Ottawa.

They sparred earlier this week in Saskatoon over immigration, carbon pricing and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Twelve people are running to be the next Conservative leader, who will be chosen in May.

Leitch has attracted headlines — and some barbs from other leadership contenders — for her immigration screening proposal, which she has yet to flesh out. She denies endorsing the controversial Trump.

"I am not a racist,'' Leitch said during the CTV segment aired Sunday. "I am not a person who's out groping other individuals. I do not do those things and I don't think that the Canadians who support the ideas I'm talking about do those types of things.''

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