Kellie Leitch

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The Honourable
Kellie Leitch
Leitch in 2014
Minister of Labour
In office
July 15, 2013 – November 4, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Lisa Raitt
Succeeded by MaryAnn Mihychuk
Minister responsible for the Status of Women
In office
July 15, 2013 – November 4, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Rona Ambrose
Succeeded by Patty Hajdu
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Simcoe—Grey
Assumed office
May 2, 2011
Preceded by Helena Guergis
Personal details
Born Khristinn Kellie Leitch
(1970-07-30) July 30, 1970 (age 47)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Political party Conservative
Other political
Progressive Conservative (Ontario)
Residence Creemore, Ontario, Canada
Alma mater Queen's University
University of Toronto (M.D.)
Dalhousie University (M.B.A.)
Profession Orthopaedic paediatric surgeon; professor

Khristinn Kellie Leitch, PC MP OOnt FRCSC (born July 30, 1970), is a Conservative MP in the Canadian House of Commons and former surgeon. She was first elected in 2011, succeeding Member of Parliament Helena Guergis who was dismissed from the Conservative Party caucus. Following her election, Leitch was appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. On July 15, 2013, Prime Minister Harper named Leitch Minister of Labour and Minister for the Status of Women. She served in Cabinet until the defeat of the Conservative government in the 2015 federal election. Leitch ran in the 2017 contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party.[1]

Training and medical career[edit]

Leitch was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the daughter of Eleanor Lynne (Conway) and Kelburne "Kit" McNabb Leitch, who owned and operated a construction company.[2][3][4] She was raised a Catholic, and still practises the religion.[5] She graduated from Queen's University in 1991 with an undergraduate degree.[6] She earned her MD from the University of Toronto in 1994, MBA from Dalhousie University in 1998, and completed the Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program in 2001 at the University of Toronto. She became a fellow of clinical paediatric orthopaedics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles/University of Southern California in 2002.[7]

Leitch formerly taught at the University of Western Ontario, where she served as the assistant dean of external affairs at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and is a former chair of paediatric surgery at the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario.

She was an orthopaedic pediatric surgeon at SickKids Hospital for one year before pursuing a career in politics. Leitch is also an associate professor at the University of Toronto.[7]

Leitch was the founding chair of the Ivey Centre for Health Innovation and Leadership and led the health sector stream of the MBA programme at the Richard Ivey School of Business located at the University of Western Ontario.

Leitch founded the now-defunct Kids Health Foundation in 2009, an organization that sought to work with academia, the not-for-profit sector, government and industry to make Canada the healthiest place on earth for children to grow up.[8]

Leitch has maintained her medical credentials while serving in politics, and has hospital privileges at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.[9]

Political involvement[edit]

Leitch is an active member of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.[10] She was a strategist in Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott's leadership bid in 2009.[11] She also served as president of the Ontario PC Campus Association, and has been actively involved in the Conservative Party since she was 14.

Leitch served as chair of the expert panel for the Children's Fitness Tax Credit in 2006, which made recommendations to Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, regarding the best ways to implement this tax credit designed to encourage health and fitness among Canadian children.[12] In 2008, Leitch authored the report entitled Reaching for the Top: A Report by the Advisor on Healthy Children & Youth. The report is a "call to action" for government and industry on key issues affecting Canadian children and youth.[7]

Leitch serves on the boards for CANFAR, the National Research Council, YMCA, and Genome Canada, among others.[7]

Federal politics[edit]

On September 17, 2010, The Globe and Mail reported that Leitch would run for the Conservative nomination in Simcoe-Grey. The seat was, at the time, held by Helena Guergis, who was expelled from the Conservative Party. The Globe described Leitch as a "star candidate" and noted that her launch event in Creemore the following day would include former Ontario premier Bill Davis and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.[13]

Leitch won the nomination over Collingwood mayor Chris Carrier and Paul Throop with 67% of all ballots cast in a large turnout. Leitch won the general election with more votes than any candidate for public office had ever received in Simcoe-Grey, with 31,784 ballots cast for her and a plurality of 20,590 votes, or 49.36% of the vote.[14] Following her election, Leitch was appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Minister of Labour and Minister for the Status of Women[edit]

As part of the February 2014 budget, Leitch announced a $25 million plan to address violence against aboriginal women and girls.[15]

On July 15, 2013, Prime Minister Harper named Leitch Minister of Labour and Minister for the Status of Women. During the 2015 Canadian federal election, Leitch said that she was pro-life when asked at a local debate, citing her experience as a paediatric surgeon as her reason.[16]

On October 2, 2015, during the general election, Leitch and then-Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander announced a Royal Canadian Mounted Police "tip line" where Canadians could report "barbaric cultural practices", which, along with the niqab issue, was widely viewed as an attempt to keep cultural and immigration issues at the forefront of the election campaign.[17] Leitch later expressed regret in her involvement of the "barbaric cultural practices tip line".[18] However, in an interview, on the statement the tip line "is a good idea but wasn’t communicated as effectively as it could be to the public" she characterised it as being "absolutely correct".[19]

Conservative leadership election[edit]

Although Leitch was re-elected in the 2015 election, the Conservatives were relegated to Official Opposition status. During the election, Leitch campaigned with over 70 Conservative candidates, which prepared the groundwork for her participation in the 2017 Conservative leadership election to replace Stephen Harper.[20] She recruited the controversial Nick Kouvalis and Richard Ciano to head her leadership campaign, and Andy Pringle of the Toronto Police Services Board was her chief fundraiser.[21] Political observers have commented that Leitch does not make any decisions without getting approval from Kouvalis.[22] Kouvalis explained that he joined Leitch's campaign because of her vast connections.[23]

In January 2017, Kouvalis admitted to spreading fake news, including false claims that Justin Trudeau was financing Hamas.[24] He claimed he spread the news in order to provoke negative reactions so that he could determine those who "aren't real Conservatives".[25] In the same month, Kouvalis accused fellow leadership candidate Maxime Bernier of giving a loan to Bombardier during his time as industry minister. However, Bernier was not in cabinet when the decision occurred.[26] He also accused Bernier for not caring about immigration when Bernier was criticizing Leitch for being deceptive.[27] In February 2017, Kouvalis resigned, saying he had become "a distraction to the campaign" but later return.[28][29]

Canadian values test[edit]

As part of her leadership campaign, Leitch proposed a Canadian value screening for all new residents.[30] Michael Chong, a left leaning Conservative MP for Wellington-Halton Hills and an opponent of Leitch in the leadership race, spoke out against Leitch’s proposal, saying that it “does not represent our Conservative Party or our Canada”.[30] Despite the censure, Leitch stood by her proposal. In a September interview with the Canadian Press, Leitch made the following statement in response to the backlash she had been receiving: "I don’t think it's intolerant to believe in a set of values that we expect everyone to share here and include those people who are coming to visit or immigrate to Canada."[31] 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.”[32]

Leitch proposed screening visitors, refugees and immigrants for "Canadian values". This process would include face to face interviews by trained immigration officers with 100% of immigrants, rather than the 10% or so that happens now, with questions pertaining to their views on whether Canadian law should be the only set of laws that applies to all Canadians, hate speech, violence, and equality between genders, sexual orientation, religious & political views.[33]

Leitch’s policy stances faced similar controversy in October 2015 during the federal election, where she and fellow Conservative MP and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander pledged support and funding to establish a tip-line for Canadians to call in regards to what they called “barbaric cultural practices".[34] Leitch has since made an effort to apologize for her role in the proposed legislation, saying that she regrets her decisions.[35] For many, including Conservative strategist Chad Rogers, Leitch’s proposed immigrant screening seemingly follows the same rhetoric, and Rogers goes as far as calling on Leitch to withdraw from the Conservative leadership race.[30]

In a November 9, 2016 interview with Toronto Life magazine, Leitch cited the belief that gays should not be sentenced to death as an example of one such Canadian value.[36]

Electoral history[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Simcoe-Grey
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Kellie Leitch 30,612 46.6 -1.8
Liberal Mike MacEachern 25,352 38.6 +25.9
New Democratic David Matthews 6,332 9.6 -7.8
Green JoAnne Fleming 2,923 4.4 -1.1
Christian Heritage Len Noordegraaf 528 0.8
Total valid votes/Expense limit 65,747 100.0     $240,274.24
Total rejected ballots 225
Turnout 65,972
Eligible voters 97,145
Conservative hold Swing -13.85
Source: Elections Canada[37][38]
Canadian federal election, 2011: Simcoe-Grey
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Kellie Leitch 31,784 49.36 -5.68 $96,128.50
New Democratic Katy Austin 11,185 17.38 +6.18 7,993.48
Independent Helena Guergis 8,714 13.50 57,289.66
Liberal Alex Smardenka 8,207 12.75 -8.80 83,148.92
Green Jace Metheral 3,482 5.41 -4.71 8,522.13
Christian Heritage Peter Vander Zaag 757 1.18 4,385.89
Canadian Action Gord Cochrane 244 0.38 2,512.75
Total valid votes/Expense limit 64,373 100.00 $99,651.72
Total rejected ballots 269 0.42 +0.08
Turnout 64,642 66.13 +6.03
Eligible voters 97,755
Conservative hold Swing -5.93

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier enter Conservative leadership race". CTV News. 6 April 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  2. ^ Edwards, John (3 April 2011). "Who is Kellie Leitch?". Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Priest, Lisa (22 October 2009). "'She's so young to take on the leadership role'". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  4. ^ Lumley, Elizabeth (2009-05-01). Canadian Who's Who 2009. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9780802040923. 
  5. ^ "How Kellie Leitch touched off a culture war -". 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  6. ^ Queen's staff (2010-01-27). "Queen's alumni honoured with Order of Ontario". News Centre. Kingston, Ontario: Queen's University. Archived from the original on 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Genome Canada-Board of Directors". Ottawa: Genome Canada. 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  8. ^ Leitch, Kellie (2010-03-03). "Kids Health Foundation founder Dr. Kellie Leitch commends the Speech from the Throne" (Press release). Toronto: Newswire. Archived from the original on 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  9. ^ "Leitch, Khristinn Kellie CPSO#: 68310". The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  10. ^ Benzie, Robert (2009-03-18). "Mike Harris is back as Tory kingmaker". The Toronto Star. Toronto. Archived from the original on 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  11. ^ Cheadle, Bruce (2012-06-12). "Dr. Kellie Leitch, Conservative MP, Moonlights As Pediatric Surgeon". The Huffington Post. Ottawa. The Canadian Press. Archived from the original on 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  12. ^ Richer, Eric (2006-07-31). "Minister of Finance Appoints Expert Panel to Advise on Children's Fitness Tax Credit". Government of Canada. Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  13. ^ Leblanc, Daniel (2010-09-17). "With Guergis out in the cold, Tories to unveil new star candidate". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  14. ^ Adams, Morgan Ian (2011-05-03). "Simcoe—Grey, by the numbers". The Enterprise Bulletin. Collingwood, Ontario. Archived from the original on 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  15. ^ Mas, Susana (15 September 2014). "Tories table plan to stop violence against aboriginal women and girls". CBC News. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  16. ^ Lum, Zi-Ann (2 October 2015). "Kellie Leitch, Status Of Women Minister, Tells Crowd She's 'Pro-Life'". Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  17. ^ Milewski, Terry. "Conservatives crank up values clash by taking aim at 'barbaric cultural practices'". CBC. CBC. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  18. ^ Zimonjic, Peter (21 April 2016). "Kellie Leitch tears up over role in barbaric cultural practices tip line". CBC News. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  19. ^ Charlton, Jonathan (2 September 2016). "Kellie Leitch: Barbaric cultural practices tip line was a good idea we failed to articulate". Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  20. ^ "Kellie Leitch campaigned with nearly 70 candidates during election". Retrieved 2015-12-25. 
  21. ^ Proudfoot, Shannon. "Behind Kellie Leitch’s ‘sort-of’ campaign for Conservative leader". Maclean's. Maclean's. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  22. ^ Reid, Scott (2016-09-09). "Kellie Leitch's desperate, smart and truly ugly political gambit". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2017-02-04. 
  23. ^ "Nick Kouvalis: The shrewd strategist behind Leitch’s Tory leadership bid". Retrieved 2016-08-16. 
  24. ^ "Leitch campaign manager gloats about spreading false info". 
  25. ^ "Inside Nick Kouvalis’s fake news strategy". 
  26. ^ "Loans for Bombardier a painless boost for Tories". 
  27. ^ MacDougall, Andrew (December 9, 2016). "Andrew MacDougall: Canada’s Conservatives don’t need Kellie Leitch to be relevant". 
  28. ^ "Kellie Leitch's campaign manager Nick Kouvalis resigns". 
  29. ^ Stone, Laura (February 17, 2017). "Kouvalis still on campaign team for Conservative leadership, Leitch says". 
  30. ^ a b c Tunney, Catherine (2 September 2016). "Kellie Leitch defends 'anti-Canadian values' survey question". CBC/Radio Canada. CBC News. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  31. ^ Smith, Joanna (6 September 2016). "Kellie Leitch says values test is about tolerance". Rogers Media. Maclean's. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  32. ^ "Kellie Leitch latches on to Trump victory -". 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2016-11-09. 
  33. ^ Template:Title=Kellie Leitch on screening for Canadian values
  34. ^ Maloney, Ryan (2 October 2015). "Tories Pledge Tip Line To Combat 'Barbaric Cultural Practices'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  35. ^ Zimonjic, Peter (21 April 2016). "Kellie Leitch tears up over role in barbaric cultural practices tip line". CBC/Radio-Canada. CBC. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  36. ^ "Q&A: Kellie Leitch, the potential future prime minister who wants to bring President-elect Trump's message to Canada". 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2016-12-29. 
  37. ^ "Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Simcoe—Grey". 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2016-12-29. 
  38. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates Archived 2015-08-15 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Lisa Raitt Minister of Labour
MaryAnn Mihychuk