As It Happens

'You make us feel unwelcome': Deepak Obhrai denounces Kellie Leitch immigrant screening proposal

Deepak Obhrai launches his bid for the Conservative leadership by denouncing Kellie Leitch's immigrant screening proposal.
Conservative leadership contenders Deepak Obhrai and Kellie Leitch. ((THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld/Fred Chartrand))

This story was originally published Sept. 6, 2016. Deepak Obhrai died Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, of liver cancer at age 69.

Deepak Obhrai doesn't like what he's hearing from his colleague Kellie Leitch. 

Leitch is the Conservative MP who has promised that, if she becomes party leader, she would screen immigrants for what she calls "anti-Canadian values."

Obhrai is in the same caucus and he filed his leadership papers earlier Tuesday. But, as he tells tells As It Happens host Carol Off, Leitch would take their party in a different direction.

Carol Off: Mr Obhrai, what troubles you about Kellie Leitch's plan to screen immigrants for what she calls "anti-Canadian values?"

Deepak Obhrai: What I am really concerned about is the tone and the message this question puts forward. As you know, right now, there has been, during the British exit, Donald Trump, those anti-immigrant parties in Europe and everywhere have been giving a negative message about immigration. Nobody's talking about the merits of immigration. This country was built by immigration. USA was built by immigration. So immigration has been completely a positive thing in a country. It has been a strength for that country. Yet, we have seen this negativism going into the fears that somebody has about immigration.

CO: Kellie Letch has not defined what these anti-Canadian values are but she has said that anti-Canadian values would be violence, misogyny, a lack of acceptance of our Canadian tradition of personal and economic freedom, intolerance. What's wrong with those values?

DO: Those values are not Canadian values. They are world values, everywhere. When immigrants come here they already have those values. [...] Most immigrants are already following them at their own homes. There is nothing new about Canadian values. Which is why everyone is having trouble with what is a Canadian value. A Canadian value should be what is in the Charter of rights -- the right for religious freedom, the right to speak, the press and all your basic rights. That is the Canadian values that is not in many countries. But being anti-violent, being anti-abusing women...these are values which are universal. 

As It Happens requested an interview with Kellie Leitch. She was not available.

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Deepak Obhrai.


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