Tory leadership candidate Kellie Leitch wants immigrants to be asked: 'Are men and women equal?'

Photo from The Canadian Press

If one Conservative leadership candidate has her way, immigrants hoping to start a new life in Canada will be pressed for their views on women's equality, the use of violence and how to provide for their families.

In a sponsored email sent to subscribers of the conservative website TheRebel.media, Kellie Leitch promises that if she becomes Conservative leader, and then prime minister, she would require each immigrant to Canada to be screened for Canadian values.

The email includes three examples of questions she wants asked of immigrants:

- Are men and woman equal, and entitled to equal protection under the law?

- Is it ever OK to coerce or use violence against an individual or a group who disagrees with your views?

- Do you recognize that to have a good life in Canada you will need to work hard to provide for yourself and your family, and that you can't expect to have things you want given to you?

It is unclear if the email, which was first reported by iPolitics.ca, was sent to all Conservative Party members, or just subscribers to TheRebel.media. 

Leitch's campaign spokesman Michael Diamond said he would not be able to shed any more light on the email because he does "not discuss strategy or tactics with the media."

The cornerstone of Leitch's campaign to be the next leader of the federal Conservatives has so far been her pledge to redraft Canada's immigration policy.

Not only would her plan require each immigrant to be screened for anti-Canadian values, but everyone seeking to start a new life in Canada would have to undergo a face-to-face interview with an immigration official before being granted entry.

"I believe that every single potential immigrant, without exception, should have a face-to-face interview with a trained immigration officer and asked questions to ascertain whether or not their values are consistent with our way of life," Leitch says in the email.

Drawing controversy

It is an idea Leitch has been advocating since she first launched her campaign. It was also a key part of her widely lampooned online video launched last month.

"Do they support the ideas of hard work, generosity, freedom and tolerance? Do they believe men and women are equal?" Leitch asks in the video.

"Do they agree that violence has no place in political disagreements? Do they agree that all should be left to worship how they see fit? Do they agree that there is one law that applies to all Canadians equally?"

Leitch has used the policy to garner the attention of the press, but some of her fellow candidates say the kind of press coverage her "Canadian values" pitch is getting is actually hurting the party.

Leadership candidate Deepak Obhrai issued a statement critical of Leitch's plans on the same day Leitch sent out her email through TheRebel.media. Obhrai said Leitch's "Canadian values" test questions risk painting the Conservatives as an "anti-immigrant party."

"Ms. Leitch's proposal to screen every immigrant and visitor is nothing but Donald Trump's executive order, disguised as Canadian values, and crafted to keep Muslims out of Canada," he said in the statement.

"This is a dangerous environment to create in Canada, and I am outraged by this," he added.