Andrew Scheer distances himself from Kellie Leitch's Syrian refugee tweet
Published Saturday, June 24, 2017 7:00AM EDT
OTTAWA -- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says party members endorsed his positive message on immigration during the leadership campaign, suggesting former leadership rival Kellie Leitch is offside with a recent comment about Syrian refugees.
Last week, Leitch tweeted a link to a column about a Syrian refugee charged with beating his wife with a hockey stick.
"A battered wife and a bloodied hockey stick. That's the legacy of Trudeau's Syrian refugee program," she wrote.
Scheer has avoided answering specific questions about the tweet, referring reporters last week to Leitch and questioning whether she believed what she had tweeted.
In an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period, Scheer wouldn't say whether he spoke to Leitch directly about what she had written on the social networking site.
"The Conservative party under my leadership will continue to be an inclusive, welcoming party that welcomes not only immigrants, but also refugees, and ensures that Canada plays its role in welcoming people from difficult situations," Scheer said in an interview to air Sunday on CTV.
"For example, we led the fight to get the Liberals to do more to welcome the Yazidis, one of the most persecuted groups at the hands of ISIS... And everyone in my caucus will project those same views and those same values. That is the Conservative tradition."
Scheer says, while he has problems with how the Liberal government has handled the matter, "I certainly don't hold the views that were in that article that was retweeted."
The Conservative leader says he's "made it very clear" to the entire caucus that they can hold the government to account "in an inclusive and positive way."
"That was what my message was during the leadership campaign. And I think the results speak for themselves. I think members endorse my approach to this," he said.
Scheer won the leadership race last month with 50.95 per cent of available points. Leitch finished sixth, with 7.95 per cent of points, following a campaign in which critics said she used identity politics and stoked fear of newcomers.
A spokeswoman for Leitch didn't respond to a request for comment.