Kellie Leitch op-ed postmortem

By May 10, 2018politics

In nearly 20 years of writing op-eds, I’ve never had a response quite like the one to the article I published earlier this week, entitled “A Clinton in Trump’s clothing“.

The article had two main points. The first is that Tory leadership candidate Kellie Leitch is disingenuous with her proposal to screen would-be immigrants with a “values test” because she doesn’t believe in it. In fact, despite her effort to ape the populist wave that carried Donald Trump to success in America, Kellie is actually more like Hillary Clinton — the type of politician who will say or do anything if they think it will be popular. The second point is that the policy isn’t even “conservative”. If anything, Leitch’s idea replicates the type of identity politics that the Left has championed over the past few decades. Her leadership campaign, successful or not, could cause serious damage to conservatism in Canada.

I heard from former Harper cabinet ministers, Conservative MPs, Senators, current and former Conservative and Liberal staffers, Conservative and Liberal party activists, and other friends and acquaintances — some of whom I had not been in touch with for a decade or more. The reactions were all positive — Thank you! Great job! Keep it up! — except for one negative (but predictable) tweet from Leitch’s campaign manager calling me a “Montreal Elite”, and an insult tweeted by someone who said I shouldn’t be able to pronounce on the issue because I’m a Muslim (I’m not, but even if I were, the guy was clearly a nutter).

To be clear: I am a non partisan. I am not a Conservative Party member, and not involved in the leadership race. But those who are need to realize that Kellie is — unfortunately — making a lot of headway with her phony populist scheme, and should be considered in the top tier of candidates, if not the front-runner. She might not be getting a lot of big-name support, but she is signing up a lot of people whose names you’ve never heard of — the people who actually show up to vote in a one-member, one-vote leadership contest.

Of course there is a legitimate point to be made about integration of new immigrants to Canada. That conversation should be had. But the way Kellie Leitch is going about it, by proposing a simplistic back-of-the-napkin approach to the issue, has to be called out for what it is: insincere, opportunistic and retrograde.