OTTAWA â€” Police are investigating a banner draped over Ontario MP Kellie Leitch’s constituency office that invokes the Quebec City mosque shooting and urges the controversial Conservative leadership candidate to resign.
The banner, stretching nearly the full height of the single-storey building, says, “Hate puts us all at risk,” and bears the names of the six people killed in Sunday’s mosque shooting in Quebec City, along with the hashtag #notmyMP.
Police say the banner was removed Wednesday morning after they were called to Leitch’s office in Collingwood, Ont.
As a Conservative leadership candidate, Leitch has promised to screen newcomers to Canada for “Canadian values” â€” a proposal that garnered fresh attention after the shooting, although there’s nothing to suggest the alleged gunman would have been screened.
When asked for her response, Leitch was brief. “Freedom of speech is a Canadian value,” she said in a statement.
Leitch condemned the Quebec City attack, calling it an “outrageous act of violence” and “an attack not just on those gathered in a house of worship but on the very fabric of Canadian society, on the values of freedom and tolerance.”
But those words have rung hollow for some Canadians, and Conservative politicians say that in today’s political climate, they all need to be more mindful of what they say.
Quebec MP Gerard Deltell, who does not support the screening idea, said there are two issues at play: the first, a leadership race where candidates are going to put forward policies to be debated and ultimately accepted or rejected by the party.
The second is the responsibility they all have during the debate.
“I think that as a public personality, and especially as a political figure, we have to look and we have to think about what we have said, what we say today and what we will say on this very delicate issue,” Deltell said.
Andrew Scheer, who is also running for the leadership, said there’s a danger the party itself could be hurt by even debating policies like Leitch’s.
“There are many things leadership candidates do or say that would give them a headline â€” maybe help them sell a few thousand memberships,” Scheer said.
“If it ultimately hurts our party’s brand or image, if people view the party as a whole as less open, less inclusive or less able to govern a country as diverse as Canada, then that leadership candidate … does the party and the caucus a disservice.”
Michael Chong, who is also seeking the leadership, has suggested Leitch’s position is downright dangerous.
A day after the Quebec City shooting, he sent an email to supporters urging caution.
“Proposals to add an additional screen for immigrants based on anti-Canadian values is not a practical solution, and frankly, is playing to fears and prejudices,” he wrote.
“Demagogues and wannabe demagogues, playing to fears and prejudices, have created the space for hate to grow.”
Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press