Leitch celebrated Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in an email to supporters early Wednesday morning saying his message would be part of her campaign.
“Tonight, our American cousins threw out the elites and elected Donald Trump as their next president,” Leitch, a pediatric surgeon, said in an e-mail and on Facebook. “It’s an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada as well. It’s the message I’m bringing with my campaign to be the next Prime Minister of Canada.”
Leitch, one of 12 candidates in a crowded field vying to be the next Conservative leader, has made the controversial proposal to screen immigrants for so-called “Canadian values.” She said she looks forward to working with Trump “on issues of common concern.”
“It’s why I’m the only candidate who will ensure that every visitor, immigrant, and refugee will be screened for Canadian values,” Leitch wrote. “I look forward to continuing to deliver this message to the Canadian elites – that historic Canadian values are worth protecting.”
WATCH: Leitch defends screening immigrants for Canadian values
The Ontario MP has outlined “Canadian values” as hard work, generosity, freedom, equality for men and women, and respect for religious and sexual diversity.
Several leadership contenders, including Maxime Bernier and Michael Chong, have publicly opposed Leitch’s testing for Canadian values, as has interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.
Andrew McGrath, a former press secretary to Leitch when she was in cabinet, responded to her overnight pitch with disappointment on social media.
“You were status of women minister,” McGrath posted to Leitch on Twitter. “Shame on you.”
An Ipsos poll released on Monday, found that a majority of Canadians would consider voting for a candidate with Trump-like policies that focused on on stricter immigration controls, reviewing trade agreements like NAFTA, and shifting spending on international development to domestic priorities.
Meanwhile, Ambrose urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to pursue “a strong free trade agenda” with Trump’s incoming administration to protect the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). Trump has threatened to tear-up NAFTA and called the TPP a “horrible” deal.
“As Canada works with the new administration, our focus in the Official Opposition will continue to be on bilateral initiatives that will contribute to the Canadian economy, create jobs, and enhance our collective security,” Ambrose said in a statement. “That will include holding the current Canadian government to account on resolving trade irritants like the softwood lumber dispute.”
Trudeau congratulated Donald Trump on his election as the 45th U.S. president, and promised to work with him to boost trade and security and to give Canadians and Americans a “fair shot at success.”
“Canada has no closer friend, partner, and ally than the United States,” Trudeau said in an email. “Our shared values, deep cultural ties, and strong integrated economies will continue to provide the basis for advancing our strong and prosperous partnership.”
*With files from the Canadian Press
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