At the core of Leitch’s campaign is her controversial proposal to screen immigrants, refugees, and visitors for 'anti-Canadian values.'
Throwing Out “The Elites”
It is no coincidence that Leitch — a pediatric surgeon, university professor, and former Harper Cabinet minister — is parroting the anti-elitist rhetoric that worked so well for Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul. Leitch is echoing Trump's populist message, positioning herself as a champion of the “average guy or gal on the street.” Leitch (who goes by her childhood nickname “Kellie”) grew up in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Her family lived in a trailer for a year (a detail she is quick to cite in interviews as proof of her humble beginnings) while her father was establishing his construction company. She credits her father, who was president of the electoral district association of Fort McMurray, with her early interest in politics (Leitch joined the Conservative Party at age 14). Her political career began in 2010 when she was elected as an MP in the constituency of Simcoe-Grey; three years later, she was appointed to Harper’s Cabinet. In spite of her two advanced degrees and considerable experience in Ottawa, Leitch is now adamant that she herself is not a member of the elite. The word was entirely absent from her Twitter feed before Trump’s victory; since November 9, she has called out “elite” four times in a single month. So who is the elite, according to Leitch? In a post-Trump world, “elite” seems to have become a slippery, catchall modifier for her critics and opponents, from the Liberals to the media:
While other candidates may be catching up in terms of fundraising or have broader intraparty support, Leitch continues to dominate the media cycle.
Although a few Canadian journalists have insisted that we should all “calm down” about Leitch, and that Canadians will see through her “completely inauthentic” message, her bid for attention seems to have worked. While other candidates may be catching up in terms of fundraising, or have broader intraparty support, Leitch continues to dominate the media cycle. Labrecque isn’t especially alarmed about Leitch. Three years ago in his province, the Parti Québécois’ attempt to introduce a “values charter” resulted in the party losing half its seats. Even if Leitch becomes her party's leader in May, for her to become prime minister, the Conservatives would still have to win a majority of seats in the next federal election. Whether her Trump-like tactics will work in Canada remains to be seen.