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Kenney dismisses Leitch position on screening immigrants for ‘anti-Canadian values’

Click to play video: 'Jason Kenney says he doesn’t take comments by Kellie Leitch on screening immigrants seriously' Jason Kenney says he doesn’t take comments by Kellie Leitch on screening immigrants seriously
WATCH ABOVE: Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney when asked about comments by Federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch on screening immigrants, responded by saying he doesn't take her comments seriously – Sep 9, 2016

CALGARY – Federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch hasn’t thought through her controversial position on screening immigrants for “anti-Canadian values,” former Tory immigration minister Jason Kenney says.

Following a speech in downtown Calgary on Friday, Kenney, who is seeking the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership, said he believes Leitch is pursuing an “improvised position” without understanding the negative impact of her words.

“I don’t take her position seriously, she’s never articulated it before,” Kenney said.

READ MORE: Rona Ambrose against Leitch’s proposal to screen for ‘anti-Canadian values’

“She’s never said a word about this in Parliament, caucus or cabinet. I don’t think she understands the nuance around these issues. You have to be very careful in the way you articulate questions about integration.”

Leitch, a Conservative MP from Ontario, emailed a survey last week to supporters that included a question about whether the federal government should screen potential immigrants and refugees for “anti-Canadian values.”

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She later said she is protecting Canadian values from people who believe that women are property and can be beaten or that gays and lesbians should be stoned.

WATCH: Conservative Party leadership candidate calls for vetting of immigrants
Click to play video: 'Conservative Party leadership candidate calls for vetting of immigrants' Conservative Party leadership candidate calls for vetting of immigrants
Conservative Party leadership candidate calls for vetting of immigrants – Sep 2, 2016

Despite widespread criticism including unflattering comparisons to U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, Leitch has defended her position that screening is needed without saying how immigration officials would actually vet new Canadians.

Kenney, a federal MP representing Calgary since 1997, was immigration minister from October 2008 to July 2013.

He boasted Friday that more immigrants became permanent residents of Canada – 1.5 million – when he was minister than under any other immigration minister.

He also defended the Conservatives as a pro-immigration government, adding that it improved security screening and brought in a law allowing quicker deportation of convicted foreign criminals.

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