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Conservative MP Tony Clement. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Conservative MP Tony Clement. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Politics

Immigrants should undergo enhanced screening, Tory leadership contender Clement says Add to ...

Conservative leadership candidate Tony Clement says he will propose enhanced immigration screening as part of his platform to protect Canadians from potential terrorists.

The Ontario MP plans on pitching the idea, part of his national security plank, at a news conference in Ottawa next week.

“We should be increasing screening to weed out people who have backgrounds that indicate that they have been involved in terrorist organizations or militant organizations that pose a threat to the country,” Mr. Clement told The Globe and Mail.

“That, I think, is where we should provide our resources.”

Mr. Clement was responding to fellow candidate Kellie Leitch’s idea to screen immigrants for so-called “anti-Canadian values,” which includes intolerance towards religions and sexual orientation, as well as misogyny or violent behaviour.

Ms. Leitch told The Globe this week her proposal is about promoting tolerance and equality, and she wants to have a discussion about what constitutes a “unified Canadian identity,” which in her eyes is equality of opportunity, hard work, generosity, freedom and tolerance. But her plan has been panned by some of Ms. Leitch’s fellow Conservatives, who’ve called it everything from “dog-whistle politics” to “Orwellian.”

A recent Globe and Mail/Nanos survey also found that almost 75 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support strengthening the screening process for immigrants from regions such as the Middle East.

While Mr. Clement said it’s always a good idea to talk about Canadian values, he doesn’t think a values test is the right approach.

“The real threat is, of course, people who want to translate their thoughts into violent action against Canadians,” he said.

“I also personally think it’s impractical and undesirable to spend our time and resources trying to create a super structure of the Canadian government deciding who is and who is not a good Canadian.”

He added that he believes the Conservative party should be pro-immigration, and his proposal is part of a “multi-faceted” approach to protect Canadians from terrorist threats.

He said his 10-point national security plan will involve giving the RCMP and security agencies more tools to fight terrorism, but declined to go into details.

“Certainly both here at home and at our borders, we should make sure that our security personnel have the tools they need to do their jobs,” he said.

Mr. Clement was, at various times, treasury board president, industry minister and health minister under Stephen Harper's government from 2006 to 2015.

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