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Kellie Leitch Tweet About Syrian Refugee's Domestic Violence Sparks Anger

While on the campaign trail this spring, then-Conservative leader hopeful Kellie Leitch insisted to Canadians she's not a racist.

She couldn't convince the Conservative Party of Canada members to elect her as leader, and, her latest tweet is doing little to convince people she's not racist, either.

On Sunday, Leitch tweeted a link to Toronto Sun columnist Candice Malcolm's piece titled "The real legacy of Trudeau's Syrian refugee program":

A battered wife and a bloodied hockey stick. That's the legacy of Trudeau's Syrian refugee program. @CandiceMalcolmhttps://t.co/C8FbpwBBvF

— Kellie Leitch (@KellieLeitch) June 18, 2017

In the column, Malcolm discusses a recent case of Mohamad Rafia, a Syrian refugee living in New Brunswick, who beat his wife with a hockey stick, claiming he didn't understand Canada's domestic violence laws.

"That's why it's so important that Canada properly screen and vet refugees before they get to Canada. Kellie Leitch's Canadian values test would have gone a long way," wrote Malcolm.

It looks like Leitch enjoyed Malcolm's endorsement and, in turn, shared the column on Twitter, using the column's final sentence to promote the tweet.

Reaction was swift, as Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, addressed the tweet, saying it's not an act on Leitch's behalf:

If you thought this was a cynical act for the #cpcldr campaign, it's not. It's what she believes and whom she is. History won't be kind. https://t.co/QYLVF6UBfY

— Gerald Butts 🇨🇦 (@gmbutts) June 19, 2017

Former Alberta Deputy Premier and MLA Thomas Lukaszuk also condemned the tweet, calling Leitch "despicable":

Your tactics are despicable! Thousands of law abiding refugees arrived & one recently saved Canadian's life. No place for hate in politics. https://t.co/acOnDCOBig

— Thomas A. Lukaszuk (@LukaszukAB) June 19, 2017

Twitter users were dumbfounded — not to mention angry — and called Leitch out.

I await your concern for the "old stock Canadian" women who are, or is it only a "culturally barbaric practice" when done by a refugee?

— (((ARC COLLECTIVE))) (@ARCCollective) June 19, 2017

there are many Canadian women who are beaten by husbands who are well aware of the laws in Canada- don't make this all about refugees

— Carolynn (@carolynnmich) June 19, 2017

If you're looking to stay relevant I'd suggest a narrative that hasn't been constantly rejected by this country. We're better than you.

— Anthony Urciuoli (@AnthonyCHML) June 19, 2017

What a gigantic load of politically motivated horseshit! One abuser, one battered wife - zero to do with a whole immigrant program!! Insane!

— Paula (@PaulaStein3) June 19, 2017

And many said Leitch should know better, given her career experience as a surgeon:

Despite the 18 letters at the end of your name, there's an astonishing lack of rigour to your powers of reasoning + logic. Shame on you.

— Joanbeam3000 (@Joanbeam3000) June 19, 2017

& YOU Ms Leitch, shld know better as a med physician tht violence agnst women & children in Cda crosses all cultures & socioeconomic bkgrnds

— GoodGawdMadge🍁 (@GawdMadge) June 19, 2017

This makes as much sense as branding all surgeons rancid bigots based only on the actions of one surgeon.

— Calmudgeon (@calmudge0n) June 19, 2017

Others pointed to the good work many refugees have contributed to Canadian society:

\Wrong. I have first-hand experience of Syrian refugees, and it's been nothing but a pleasure for all. They are great assets to Canada.

— Bernard Simon (@bernardsimon) June 19, 2017

Disappointing that you would use this crime to promote your politics. Many refugees have settled and contributed to their communities.

— Sandra Northcott (@SandraNorthcott) June 18, 2017

Classic gutless tactic Kellie. Cherry pick one terrible crime out of the thousands of positive stories coming from Syrian refugees.

— Brett Bonisteel (@BrettBonisteel) June 19, 2017

While campaigning for the CPC leadership, Leitch faced frequent accusations of anti-Muslim xenophobia because of her much-discussed proposal to screen newcomers for so-called "anti-Canadian values" and her push in the 2015 election to create a tip line to report "barbaric cultural practices."

For the record, here are a few stories HuffPost Canada has covered about Syrian refugees giving back to their new Canadian communities:

Last year, Syrian refugees handed out roses as a Saskatoon mall, to thank the city for the warm welcome they'd received in the country:

And these Syrian women in Peterborough, Ont., have been busy making Canadian flags as a way of saying "thank you."

And in Halifax, N.S., a group of Syrian men have started a booth at the Seaport Farmer's Market, to help curb food waste and connect with their new community.

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