Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch says the fact a video she put on social media last week has been viewed by so many people is proof her message on immigration is resonating with the public.
Speaking to the Calgary Eyeopener Thursday, Leitch said the video — widely lampooned for its bizarre staging and delivery — has been viewed by more than 500,000 people and has roughly a million Facebook impressions.
"That's what the media loves to do, you guys love to ridicule me. And so I'm delighted that now, unfiltered, the Canadian public can see what I'm talking about," said Leitch when asked whether the video's popularity reflected belief in her message, or incredulity at its production value.
Leitch is a controversial candidate thanks to her proposal that all immigrants, refugees and visitors to Canada should have a face-to-face interview with an immigration officer and be screened for "Canadian values."
Those values, Leitch said, are "hard work, generosity, freedom, tolerance and equality of opportunity."
Leitch pointed to the fact Canada used to screen immigrants until 2002, with officers awarding points to based on objective criteria, but also on subjective "personal suitability" criteria.
She wants all visitors to Canada to undergo a screening process, adding the interview could help immigrants to this country integrate into society.
A poll conducted in September 2016 by Forum Research, rather than the pageviews of her recent video, suggests Leitch does have support for her views.
In that sampling of 1,370 Canadian voters, 67 per cent agreed that immigrants should be screened for "anti-Canadian values."
"I recognize that ... the media wanted to pick this as something negative and everything else, but it's not and two-thirds of Canadians agree with me," said Leitch.
A more recent Forum poll from January showed only two per cent of Canadians, not just Conservative members, favoured Leitch to be the leader of the Conservatives.
Leitch is running against Kevin O'Leary, Steven Blaney, Pierre Lemieux, Maxime Bernier, Rick Peterson, Michael Chong, Erin O'Toole, Andrew Saxton, Lisa Raitt, Andrew Scheer, Chris Alexander, Brad Trost and Deepak Obhrai.