Conservative leadership candidate Kelly Leitch in her bid to try and be Trump Lite in Canada, wants to play around with an existing immigrant settlement fee and connect it to her imaginary Canadian”values” test. For those new to this, Leitch has been trying desperately to stand out in her quest for the leadership and has been cherry picking various bigoted policies from around the globe.  She wants immigrants to take a Canadian “values” test not realizing (or caring) that most Canadians don’t know what those are or how they are defined. So in the latest move to grab attention Leitch seems to believe Canada’s sordid past of racist immigration limiting policy is the way to go for campaign inspiration. Canada once had a Chinese Head Tax as many Canadians know and it was designed to limit immigration. Leitch wants her version of a tax tied to her fantasy test and claims she would tie it to the number of immigrants and inflation and therein is what makes this more of a “head tax” than a residency fee or means to pay for a test. By stating this, one can infer that she is alluding to using it to limit immigration just as previous taxes on immigrants did.

Seemingly oblivious to Canadian history, Leitch is no doubt patting herself on the back on this. But let’s be frank, the problem isn’t Leitch. Why? Because Leitch doesn’t know who she is as a politician. This may change as she embraces this nonsense. For now though she is reaching for anything to make her stand out. Her public breakdown after supporting the creation of a snitch line to report “barbaric cultural practices” in the last election is evidence of this. Her plan to be Trump’s Canadian version won’t work because she’s not believable. This comes across as a pathetic and sad attempt at copycatting – nothing more. Trump’s view of himself as outside of politics may also be an act but the difference was he was able to sell it. Leitch isn’t even able to convincingly copy it let only sell it. Donors to her take note.Even still, as much as I think she doesn’t appear believable, it shouldn’t negate condemning her actions and statements. Canadian electorate take note too. The people that voted for Trump in the U.S. on the basis of “well I don’t think he means what he says” should give their head a shake. Is that what things have come to in politics? I will vote for this person on the hope that they don’t mean what they say? What kind of logic is that? And if the person does mean it? What then? Is this statement next, “Wow he actually deported millions of people, didn’t see that coming!” You didn’t? How so?

The danger is in what she is inviting. She’s trying to capitalize on a fear of immigration bringing terrorism that has been around for quite some time but had reached a new high with 9/11. The convergence between immigration and terrorism law around the world reinforced it. The reality is someone more skilled than her will be able to sell it but it remains to be seen if such a leader would win on the right in Canada, at least right now.  A populist leader could emerge in Canada from either the right or left at this point. The recent rise in support for right-wing fringe parties in other countries could build support for them in Canada. On the left side of things, Trudeau isn’t living up to progressive expectations and a leader who claims to bring the “real change” Canadians were promised could make some serious headway sooner than people might think. Taking on the role of leader for Canada’s leftist party, the NDP, is not a career death sentence as some in the media claim given Trudeau’s popularity. A skilled populist leader could quickly tear Liberal support away and surprise pundits much the same as Trump did. Trudeau might be contributing to a populist leader coming to Canada more than anyone given how many huge promises he made for change (just as Obama did) and he is slowly showing he won’t be able to deliver on them.

For now though we have Kelly Leitch, the pediatrician that has put all her eggs into a racist xenophobic basket and appears to look to Canadian history’s Head Tax policy makers for inspiration. Perhaps it would be worth asking her the question: Kelly, when the former Prime Minister, and your party leader Steven Harper, apologized in the House of Commons for Canada’s racist head tax policy, did you agree with the apology or not?

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