The federal Conservative leadership race has some Canadians wondering if the winner could be Canada’s own version of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
There are currently 13 candidates vying for the title, and in recent weeks, some have accused their opponents of bringing “Trump-style” politics to the table to try and gain votes.
On Saturday, leadership candidate Deepak Obhrai released a statement calling fellow candidate Kellie Leitch’s comments about immigration xenophobic, and compared her stance on screening immigrants to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Leitch has proposed a screening process for immigrants that would determine whether they had “anti-Canadian” values. She also said she would make immigrants pay for their own screening.
Obhrai told 660 NEWS the screening process would only divide Canadians and hurt the country’s growth. He said Leitch is using fear in her campaign, much like Trump did, and painting immigrants, specifically Muslims, as harmful to Canada.
“When you start saying ‘I’m going to screen them,’ you are putting a burden on them,” he said. “You are saying, ‘They are guilty of something.’ So you’re already putting doubt on all immigrants that are coming into this country. We need immigrants in this country. Let’s be open like we have been in the past.”
Obhrai said his version of the Conservative party is one that is diverse and inclusive to everyone, not one that’s only open to certain people.
“When you start attacking groups, we’re sending out a message that the Conservative party is an elitist party. These kind of statements by Kellie Leitch are sending out a message, telling other people that this is not a home to all, but it is a home to few privileged people.”
Doreen Barrie, adjunct professor of political science at the University of Calgary, said she doesn’t believe the Trump tactics some of the candidates are using will help them win the party’s leadership.
“I don’t think there’s a large market for it in Canada,” Barrie said. “We have different political systems, we have different societies, and I think in Canada there’s less despair to mine. I don’t believe it is something that would attract a large group of Canadians, enough Canadians to elect a prime minister at some point, if that person comes from that school (of political views).”
Barrie added, the majority of Canadians are “middle of the road people” who don’t like extremes, no matter which party they support. This would suggest that if the Conservatives were to elect a Trump-style politician as their leader, they would not be successful in the future.
But Trump was successful, and Barrie said that could be why some candidates are channeling the American politician.
When it comes down to the Conservatives winning the next federal elections, Barrie doesn’t believe Trump copycats are the biggest of the party’s concerns.