Home Page News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising FAQ
Log In
News

Conservative leadership candidate Obhrai says he received emails telling him to ‘leave Canada’ after Leitch released immigration plan

By Tim Naumetz      

Conservative leadership contender Deepak Obhrai, who immigrated to Canada in 1977, said that after he opposed fellow candidate Kellie Leitch's plan to screen newcomers, he received hate mail at his MP office.

Conservative leadership candidate Deepak Obhrai says 'Kellie Leitch's admiration of Donald Trump does not fit into my vision of Canada.' The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

Long-time Calgary Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai says his early opposition to fellow Tory MP Kellie Leitch’s plan to screen refugees, immigrants, and visitors to Canada for anti-Canadian values sparked angry emails to his MP office telling him to leave the country.

Mr. Obhrai immigrated to Canada 39 years ago, and is now vying for the Conservative party leadership along with Ms. Leitch and 10 other contestants. He disclosed his receipt of the hate mail in an interview with The Hill Times on Thursday, while discussing the effect that Ms. Leitch’s proposal—which she shared in late August—may have had on her fundraising efforts.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-8-22-57-pm-t5823f416-m800-png-pv-x82c2d273

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch during the Nov. 9 leadership debate. Screenshot courtesy of CPAC.

In the month following her policy proposition, contributors to Ms. Leitch’s campaign multiplied and poured more than $100,000 into her leadership war chest, bolstering a dismal fundraising effort over the summer months.

Several of Ms. Leitch’s leadership opponents have criticized her approach, and debate over newcomer screening was re-ignited after Ms. Leitch expressed support for the immigration policies proposed by U.S. president-elect Donald Trump following his defeat of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election.

“She is tapping into the base, the fundamental base that is worried about immigration, the ones who seem to have a fear of change from immigration in Canada, and she is tapping into those fears,” Mr. Obhrai told The Hill Times in a phone interview, as he was travelling from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to the province’s capital following the contest’s first all-candidate debate on Wednesday night.

‘The wrong approach’

“That is the wrong approach to take,” said Mr. Obhrai, one of the deans of the House of Commons, who was born in Tanzania to a Hindu family, and was first elected in his Calgary riding in 1997 after immigrating to Canada in 1977.

Mr. Obhrai did not comment directly on the possible effect Ms. Leitch’s immigration policy may have had on her fundraising, but instead revealed other fallout from the controversial idea.

“Basically, after Kellie Leitch came out with it, I can tell you that when I said I’m opposing her, that I don’t agree with her, I did also get a lot of emails that were telling me ‘leave the country, go away,’” Mr. Obhrai said.

After the initial uproar over her first description of immigrant and refugee screening in an Aug. 30 survey Ms. Leitch’s campaign distributed to thousands of potential supporters, Ms. Leitch moderated the tone and widened the scope of the policy to include “visitors.”

On Sept. 1, the Canadian Press reported the survey as asking: “Should the Canadian government screen potential immigrants for anti-Canadian values as part of its normal screening for refugees and landed immigrants?”

Ms. Leitch’s campaign web site currently includes “screening all visitors, refugees and immigrants for Canadian Values” as one of four priorities, that she says would “create more freedom, more prosperity, and protect our unified Canadian identity.”

The other priorities are a cap on government spending, opposition to a federal carbon tax, and opposition to the legalization of marijuana.

Mr. Obhrai, who was Parliamentary Secretary to a string of Conservative ministers of foreign affairs in Stephen Harper’s governments from 2006 to 2015, noted that his children and his two grandchildren were born in Canada.

“They’re all born here, they’re all Canadian, their values are not different,” Mr. Obhrai said. “Kellie Leitch cannot question their values. These Canadians have their own values and we should respect them,” he added.

Ms. Leitch’s comment that the election of Mr. Trump sent an “exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada as well” made her a lightning rod at the leader debate in Saskatoon on Nov. 9, once again putting her under the contest’s spotlight.

Ms. Leitch did not respond to requests for comment on the emails received by Mr. Obhrai.

‘Divisive politics’

In a statement released by Mr. Obhrai on Thursday morning, he said that Mr. Trump’s election victory has “brought divisive politics to Canada.”
“Kellie Leitch’s admiration of Donald Trump does not fit into my vision of Canada,” it goes on to state.

“Canada was built by successive waves of immigration. To put a screening process in place for New Canadians is an insult to all Canadians, why should a bureaucrat decide who comes to Canada?” the press release read.

In the interview with The Hill Times, Mr. Obhrai suggested the security and government briefings Mr. Trump will receive before he takes office in January might moderate some of his other policies, including his opposition to the North American Free Trade Deal, demands that European nations contribute more to NATO in return for continued U.S. membership in the military alliance, and closer relations between the U.S. and Russia.

“You know, now that he’s elected, now he’s subject to all these briefings, now he will see the reality, from these briefings, how important these relations are with our allies,” said Mr. Obhrai, who specialized in foreign affairs during his time in the Harper government. “There are very deep relations with Canada, and all of our allies, he will be briefed on all of those things. I know from our own experience that we were briefed as well.”

Sponsored Content

Supporting a Digital Public Sector

By Schneider Electric’s Secure Power Division - Canada

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Feds to miss 2021 target to lift remaining boil-water advisories, pledge to redouble commitment

News|By Beatrice Paez
The $1.5-billion funding boost is being framed as an assurance the government is committed, over the long term, to lifting those remaining advisories and preventing new ones from coming into effect. 

Centre Block renovation budget tops $655-million as post-holiday stonework nears

News
PSPC has settled on leaving intact the bullet holes left behind after a fatal shootout involving RCMP officers, security, and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who claimed allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.

NDP, Bloc push for Boeing 737 Max crash inquiry as Liberals, Conservatives block effort

‘In order to have closure, you need to have truth come out,’ says Chris Moore, who believes an inquiry is the best way to get answers about his daughter’s ‘needless’ death in the 2019 crash.

BOIE approves nearly $12-million in new annual House spending

Plus, the House administration recently published its first-ever disclosure reports, detailing a combined total of more than $9.6-million in expenses.

‘Very important’ embassy inauguration bash, which attracts influential Washington power brokers, up in the air

News|By Neil Moss
A PMO spokesperson wouldn't say if any cabinet members will be headed to Washington next January for Joe Biden's inauguration.

Vague on details, feds’ fiscal update dangles possibility of spring election, say experts

News|By Beatrice Paez
The withholding of specifics in the economic statement is part of a longer-term fiscal and electoral strategy to assure different groups the government has their back, says McGill University professor Daniel Béland.

Race to replace MP Kent as Thornhill’s Conservative on the ballot a chance to ‘bring Conservatives back into the fold,’ sign of ‘generational shift,’ say early candidates

News|By Mike Lapointe
Two names have emerged stating their intentions of running for the party’s nomination in the riding so far, including long-time Conservative staffer Melissa Lantsman as well as Progressive Conservative MPP Gila Martow.

Feds propose pumping $100-billion into economy to stimulate recovery, as deficit on track to soar to $381-billion

News|By Beatrice Paez
In the absence of a fiscal anchor, Ottawa said it intends to use 'several indicators' related to the labour market such as the employment rate, hours worked, and level of unemployment.

‘That’s a tough one’: potential prolonged delay in COVID-19 vaccines for Canadians would be politically ‘explosive’ for Trudeau Liberals, say politicos

News|By Abbas Rana
If Canadians are behind other countries in getting inoculated against COVID-19, the Liberals would not want a spring election, as speculated, since it would mean losing the government, say politicos.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.