Conservative leadership candidate Lisa Raitt kicked off the new year on Wednesday with a direct and biting attack on two of her competitors, accusing them of “antics,” “theatrics” and “cheap talk.”
Raitt, who joined the 13-candidate race to replace Stephen Harper last fall, said that both businessman Kevin O’Leary and current Tory MP Kellie Leitch are setting up the Conservatives to fail in the next federal election.
“O’Leary is a TV entertainer … this is a man who thinks that 3.5 billion people in poverty is fantastic news.”
WATCH: Lisa Raitt starts movement to stop Kevin O’Leary, Kellie Leitch
She added that O’Leary has made comments attacking unions and members of the Canadian Forces.
Raitt, a former cabinet minister, also launched a website, stopkevinoleary.com, asking members of the party and supporters to visit the page and provide their email addresses.
O’Leary launched his own information-gathering website in late December.
“I’m concerned about him entering into the race, I’m concerned about his brand of politics,” Raitt said of the former Dragons’ Den star. “I want to make sure people understand exactly what they will be getting.”
Raitt’s page focuses exclusively on O’Leary, who has not officially joined the race, but she said people who opposed Leitch’s politics are also welcome in her camp.
Raitt drew a direct comparison between her two competitors and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. Asked whether a quiet but significant number of Canadians might support Leitch or O’Leary like Americans did for Trump, she said she is confident they will not.
“She is not reflecting our principles when she talks about immigration in the way she does … she’s my friend but the kinds of stuff she’s talking about is not going to lead us on a path to victory.”
The Conservatives have worked hard to build up a strong support base among immigrant communities, Raitt added.
Leitch began making national headlines in 2016 when she asked her supporters if they would support screening new arrivals for “anti-Canadian values.”
She later said she was excited to bring Trump’s political approach north of the border, and on Tuesday night she appeared on the right-leaning Fox Business Network.
Raitt said that type of “negative and divisive politics will drive our party right into the ground.”
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, O’Leary said he was glad there was finally some “excitement” in the leadership race, and called Raitt’s accusations surrounding his policy positions “ridiculous” and “confused.” O’Leary was unavailable for an interview with Global News.
Then, just after 3 p.m. ET, Leitch sounded off on Twitter and Facebook, reiterating that she wants to see immigrants screened in face-to-face interviews and accusing Raitt of siding with the “media elites.”