The View From Here – Kellie Leitch should learn from the recent US election rather than emulate its basest tendencies

Tom Henihan
Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has a number of accomplishments: she is an elected member of parliament, a former minister of the Harper government and a pediatrician.

Yet, Leitch’s politics are driven by nothing but crass political ambition and she is willing to embrace the dark, the divisive and the imaginary in order to fulfill her goal.

Like many people who blindly overreach in their ambitions, it would appear that Kellie Leitch has lost all sense of self-awareness, irony and shame.

A leadership candidate for a federal party who applauds Donald Trump’s victory in the US election while at the same time casting herself as the self-ordained champion of “Canadian values” is an irony even the most plodding and literal minded would find hard to miss. Yet Ms. Leitch appears oblivious to that irony.

Extolling the election of Trump as a positive development for Americans and the rest of the world is irresponsible.

Praising a man who personifies racism, misogyny, intolerance and deceitfulness as an exemplar of political progress is in itself a violation of Canadian values.

Now, in true Trump style, Leitch is talking about taking power away from Canadian elites while simultaneously holding a $500 fundraiser in the rarified air of the 68th floor of First Canadian Place on Bay Street in Toronto.

Besides the obvious dubiousness of Leitch’s political platform, in a Canadian context, taking power away from elites is tilting at windmills.

The notion that there are any readily recognizable equivalents between American and Canadian politics and social demographics is without foundation.

While there are many people in Canada who are poor, unemployed, struggling to raise their families and poorly represented, there is no cohesive, uneducated and disaffected grassroots demographic as there is in the US.

The same applies to the wealthy and political elite, which are not as consolidated in Canada as they are in the US.

This opportunistic, lowbrow form of politics: crass and attention seeking is a distraction that compromises the value of political debate.

Looking at the contradictions and implausibility of Leitch’s position, it is reasonable to assume that she has no discernable values and by values I mean those solid, unshakable underpinnings that even one’s opponents can rely on being real and immutable.

Leitch’s strategy appears to be working for her; so far she has raised more money that any of the other 12 candidates in the leadership race.

Of course, it is still early days and going from political nobody to flavour of the month due to her Trump-style platform does not mean Leitch is in any way a front-runner.

Due to her consistent call for increased screening for “anti-Canadian values” of immigrants and refugees she has alienated many within her own party.

In the days following her hailing Trump’s win, Steve Kent, former deputy premier of Newfoundland Labrador issued a statement withdrawing his support, saying Leitch’s divisive policies are inconsistent with his beliefs and with the “welcoming spirit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in general.”

Former Senator Hugh Segal and former chief of staff Graham Fox have also distanced themselves from Leitch.

As the Conservative leadership race gains momentum, hopefully, Leitch’s bid will be relegated to a sideshow to be ridiculed rather than challenged.

Share this post