Two Conservative leadership hopefuls with the toughest stances on immigration have used Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai's visit to Canada as fodder to fundraise for their platforms.
Steven Blaney, the former Conservative public safety minister who wants to reduce the number of immigrants in order to better integrate them, and Kellie Leitch, who is proposing to screen immigrants, refugees and visitors for "Canadian values," both sent out e-mails referencing Ms. Yousafzai's visit to Ottawa on Wednesday, where she received honorary Canadian citizenship and addressed Parliament.
Mr. Blaney's e-mail focused on preventing terrorism and protecting women from Sharia law, while Ms. Leitch's praises Ms. Yousafzai as the "embodiment of Canadian values" she is proposing in her platform.
In her speech in the Commons, Ms. Yousafzai praised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "welcome to Canada" catchphrase, which many Tory candidates say sends the wrong message to asylum-seekers who want to enter Canada at non-official border crossings.
"Your motto and your stand 'welcome to Canada' is more than a headline or a hashtag. It is the spirit of humanity that every single one of us would yearn for if our family was in crisis," Ms. Yousafzai, 19, said.
"I pray that you continue to open your homes and your hearts to the world's most defenceless children and families, and I hope your neighbours will follow your example."
Both candidates have also taken a hard line on asylum-seekers illegally crossing the border into Canada from the United States. Mr. Blaney has proposed increasing resources for the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency, as well as reviewing immigration laws to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to apply for refugee status. Ms. Leitch has said asylum-seekers should be detained, questioned and sent back to the United States, and that mayors who "harbour them" should be cut off from federal tax dollars.
A representative for Mr. Blaney's office said he believed the Quebec MP was in the chamber for Ms. Yousafzai's speech, but couldn't immediately confirm, and his campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Ms. Leitch, who represents the Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey, was in the chamber for the speech.
In his e-mail to supporters, Mr. Blaney posted a photograph of then-14-year-old Ms. Yousafzai in hospital after she was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 in retaliation for her campaign to promote girls' education.
He referenced the fact that Ms. Yousafzai was first scheduled to receive citizenship on Oct. 22, 2014, but it was cancelled because of the shootings on Parliament Hill. Former prime minister Stephen Harper had originally tabled the motion proposing Canada name Ms. Yousafzai an honorary citizen in 2014.
"As such, in Canada like in Pakistan, the terrorist threat is real," Mr. Blaney writes.
He then goes on to criticize the Liberals for promised changes to Bill C-51, the anti-terror act, and vows to protect Canadians abroad and to prevent radical Islam. He then asks for a donation "to protect the millions of women throughout the world who are forced to survive under Sharia law."
In her letter, Ms. Leitch calls Ms. Yousafzai's story "at once tragic and hopeful" and says it is a reminder that not everyone enjoys the freedom, safety and security of Canada.
She says Ms. Yousafzai is the "embodiment of Canadian values" and is deserving of Canadian citizenship.
"I am running to be the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada in order to protect and promote these values – in order to ensure that young women like Malala can live their lives free from fear, in a nation that values freedom and tolerance above all else," Ms. Leitch writes.
Meanwhile, Brad Trost, another leadership contender, sent out a letter that seeks to fundraise off the Trudeau government's bill to legalize marijuana. The e-mail asks whether Mr. Trudeau will institute mandatory drug tests for all MPs, senators and staff "to ensure that nobody's judgement is impaired while going about the people's business." Conservative members will choose their new leader on May 27.
Mr. Trost's spokesman, Mike Patton, later alleged in a campaign video that Mr. Trost has seen MPs show up to work "intoxicated."
"He has seen members from all sides appear in the House of Commons, vote and debate while he believes them to be intoxicated," Mr. Patton said.
"With the legalization of marijuana, he believes this trend is only going to accelerate."