OTTAWA – Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier says the best way to promote Canadian values is to provide new immigrants with economic opportunities to help them integrate into society.
The Quebec MP is responding to an idea floated last week by leadership rival Kellie Leitch, whose campaign asked supporters in an email questionnaire whether the federal government should screen potential immigrants and refugees for what it called anti-Canadian values.
WATCH: Conservative MP Maxime Bernier discusses ways party can regain public trust
Bernier says he believes Canadian values exist and defined them as equality before the law and equality between men and women, as well as tolerance, freedom and respect.
But he disagrees with the idea of vetting immigrants, saying a better way to deal with radical Islam is to provide security agencies with more resources to combat radicalization of anyone, whether born here or not.
Bernier says he wants to focus his leadership campaign on the economy and thinks Conservatives will end up rallying behind a candidate who promotes policies that both unify the party and show the country the Tories are ready to govern again.
Leitch says she feels strongly about the proposal and looks forward to debating these issues in the leadership campaign.