PC leader condemns 2 candidates on eve of Conservative leadership debate in Halifax
Jamie Baillie distances himself from immigration proposals made by Kellie Leitch and Steven Blaney
Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie hasn't picked a favourite yet in the federal Conservative leadership race but he's not supporting two of the 14 because of their stands on immigration.
On the eve of the Saturday debate between the hopefuls in Halifax, he has criticized Kellie Leitch for proposing values tests for newcomers and Steven Blaney for advocating greater limits on immigration.
"I completely condemn the things that Kellie Leitch and Steven Blaney have been saying," Baillie told CBC News Friday.
"We've seen a few candidates talk about values tests for immigrants, so I don't agree with that. I'm proud of the values my country has without needing to put a test before people who want to join us.
"One of our strengths is we attract people who share our inclusive values and we don't need to test that. And I think that those kinds of statements just divide people. They might be done for political reasons; all they do is divide Canadians and I'm not in favour of that."
Leitch has said prospective immigrants should be screened for "anti-Canadian values," while Blaney has said the country should cut the number of immigrants and refugees it accepts in order to better integrate them.
Leitch said this week she would not rescind her policy pledge, despite criticism from some following the shooting Sunday at a Quebec City mosque that left six dead.
Under Baillie's leadership, the provincial party has staunchly protected its Progressive Conservative label. When federal Conservatives dropped the word progressive from that party's official name, its Nova Scotia counterpart almost immediately noted it would not follow suit.
PC staff are also quick to correct media reports that don't use the word progressive when naming the Nova Scotia party.
Baillie drew the distinction again in chastising Leitch and Blaney.
"As a Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative I feel very strongly that Muslim Canadians and all Canadians come together in a time of tragedy like this," he said, noting the Quebec City shooting.
"And reinforce the fact that we're proud of a country that has freedom of worship, that stands against terrorism no matter who the victim is, that wants to build a peaceful and inclusive society. That's the progressive part of progressive conservatism and I will defend it with anyone."
Baillie will deliver a keynote address to PC Party members Friday night. There is a leadership debate on Saturday where all 14 candidates will square off, including he newest entrant, former Dragon's Den panelist Kevin O'Leary.