Kellie Leitch

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Dr. Kellie Leitch
Kellie Leitch in 2017 (cropped).jpg
Leitch in 2017
Minister of Labour
In office
July 15, 2013 – November 4, 2015
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byLisa Raitt
Succeeded byMaryAnn Mihychuk
Minister Responsible for the Status of Women
In office
July 15, 2013 – November 4, 2015
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byRona Ambrose
Succeeded byPatty Hajdu
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Simcoe—Grey
In office
May 2, 2011 – September 11, 2019
Preceded byHelena Guergis
Succeeded byTerry Dowdall
Personal details
Khristinn Kellie Leitch

(1970-07-30) July 30, 1970 (age 52)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Political partyConservative
Other political
Progressive Conservative (Ontario)
Residence(s)Creemore, Ontario, Canada
Alma materQueen's University
University of Toronto (M.D.)
Dalhousie University (M.B.A.)
ProfessionOrthopaedic paediatric surgeon; professor
FieldBusiness, medicine
Institution(s)University of Southern California
University of Western Ontario
National Research Council,
Genome Canada

Dr. Khristinn Kellie Leitch PC OOnt FRCSC (born July 30, 1970) is a Canadian surgeon and former politician who served as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Simcoe—Grey from 2011 to 2019 as a member of the Conservative Party. She was first elected in the 2011 federal election, 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 Stephen 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] On January 23, 2018, Leitch announced that she would not be seeking re-election for the 43rd Canadian federal election and would return to being a full-time surgeon.[2]

Early life, training, and medical career[edit]

Leitch was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and raised in the Beacon Hill neighbourhood of Fort McMurray, Alberta.[3] She is the daughter of Eleanor Lynne (Conway) and Kelburne "Kit" McNabb Leitch, who owned a construction company in Fort McMurray.[3][4][5][6]

She graduated from Queen's University in 1991 with an undergraduate degree.[7] 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.[8]

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.[8]

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.

In 2009, Leitch founded the Kids Health Foundation (now known as The Sandbox Project), 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.[9]

Leitch maintained her medical credentials while serving in politics, and had hospital privileges at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.[10]

Political involvement[edit]

Leitch is an active member of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.[11] She was a strategist in Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott's leadership bid in 2009.[12] 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.[13] 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.[8]

Leitch serves on the boards for CANFAR, the National Research Council, YMCA, and Genome Canada, among others.[8]

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.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17]

Leitch in India as part of a Canadian delegation led by Chris Alexander in 2015.[18]

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.[19] Leitch later expressed regret in her involvement of the "barbaric cultural practices tip line".[20] 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".[21]

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.[22] 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".[23] Leitch has since made an effort to apologize for her role in the proposed legislation, saying that she regrets her decisions.[24]

She recruited Nick Kouvalis and Richard Ciano to head her leadership campaign,[25] and Andy Pringle of the Toronto Police Services Board was her chief fundraiser.[26] Leitch was the first official candidate to enter the race.[27]

As part of her leadership campaign, Leitch proposed a Canadian value screening for all new residents.[28] Michael Chong, 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".[28] 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."[29] The focus of her campaign around the policies surprised some of her long-time mentors, such as former Conservative senator Hugh Segal, who couldn't support her leadership bid.[30]

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.[31] Stephen Maher, based on information he received from former staffers of Letich, argued that her campaign manager Nick Kouvalis, thought that it would give Leitch, a way to win.[32]

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.[33]

During the campaign she was endorsed by Council of European Canadians,[34] but her campaign rejected the endorsement.[35] Regarding the endorsement, Leitch said that for anyone to think her campaign is in any way based on ethnic nationalism is to be willfully ignorant of what her campaign is about.[35]

Leitch finished sixth in the race.

After the leadership race[edit]

She was not included into Andrew Scheer's shadow cabinet. In December 2017, it was reported that Essa Township mayor Terry Dowdall and physician Gillian Yeates were challenging Leitch for the Conservative nomination in Simcoe—Grey for the next election.[36] On January 23, 2018, Leitch announced that she would not seek re-election.[27] Leitch threw her support towards Marc Biss and Tim Bulmer, to be the party candidate for her riding arguing that they were "real conservatives" while believing Yeates and Dowdall were not.[37] On March 24, it was announced that Dowdall won the party nomination for her riding after it was rumoured that he defeated Yeates on the third ballot.[38]

On January 23, 2018, Leitch announced that she would not be seeking re-election for the 43rd Canadian federal election and would return to being a full-time surgeon. As of December 1, 2019, she is chief of orthopaedic surgery at Children's of Mississippi in Jackson, Mississippi, United States.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Leitch was raised a Catholic, and still practises the religion.[40]

Electoral history[edit]

2015 Canadian federal election: Simcoe—Grey
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Kellie Leitch 30,612 46.6 -1.8 $101,505.22
Liberal Mike MacEachern 25,352 38.6 +25.9 $55,545.97
New Democratic David Matthews 6,332 9.6 -7.8 $5,106.83
Green JoAnne Fleming 2,923 4.4 -1.1 $5,324.15
Christian Heritage Len Noordegraaf 528 0.8 $3,879.16
Total valid votes/Expense limit 65,747 100.0     $242,062.43
Total rejected ballots 225
Turnout 65,972
Eligible voters 97,145
Source: Elections Canada[41][42]
2011 Canadian federal election: 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


  1. ^ "Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier enter Conservative leadership race". CTV News. April 6, 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  2. ^ "Former Tory cabinet minister, leadership contender Leitch to quit politics". National Post. January 24, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Bates, Andrew (July 23, 2013). "Kellie Leitch: From Beacon Hill to Parliament Hill". fortmcmurraytoday. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  4. ^ Edwards, John (April 3, 2011). "Who is Kellie Leitch?". Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  5. ^ Priest, Lisa (October 22, 2009). "'She's so young to take on the leadership role'". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  6. ^ Lumley, Elizabeth (May 1, 2009). Canadian Who's Who 2009. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9780802040923.
  7. ^ Queen's staff (January 27, 2010). "Queen's alumni honoured with Order of Ontario". News Centre. Kingston, Ontario: Queen's University. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d "Genome Canada-Board of Directors". Ottawa: Genome Canada. 2013. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  9. ^ Leitch, Kellie (March 3, 2010). "Kids Health Foundation founder Dr. Kellie Leitch commends the Speech from the Throne" (Press release). Toronto: Newswire. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  10. ^ "Leitch, Khristinn Kellie CPSO#: 68310". The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  11. ^ Benzie, Robert (March 18, 2009). "Mike Harris is back as Tory kingmaker". The Toronto Star. Toronto. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  12. ^ Cheadle, Bruce (June 12, 2012). "Dr. Kellie Leitch, Conservative MP, Moonlights As Pediatric Surgeon". The Huffington Post. Ottawa. The Canadian Press. Archived from the original on June 16, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  13. ^ Richer, Eric (July 31, 2006). "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 October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  14. ^ Leblanc, Daniel (September 17, 2010). "With Guergis out in the cold, Tories to unveil new star candidate". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  15. ^ Adams, Morgan Ian (May 3, 2011). "Simcoe—Grey, by the numbers". The Enterprise Bulletin. Collingwood, Ontario. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  16. ^ Mas, Susana (September 15, 2014). "Tories table plan to stop violence against aboriginal women and girls". CBC News. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  17. ^ Lum, Zi-Ann (October 2, 2015). "Kellie Leitch, Status Of Women Minister, Tells Crowd She's 'Pro-Life'". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  18. ^ "Canada and India continue to build strong economic ties". January 9, 2015.
  19. ^ Milewski, Terry. "Conservatives crank up values clash by taking aim at 'barbaric cultural practices'". CBC. CBC. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  20. ^ Zimonjic, Peter (April 21, 2016). "Kellie Leitch tears up over role in barbaric cultural practices tip line". CBC News. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  21. ^ Charlton, Jonathan (September 2, 2016). "Kellie Leitch: Barbaric cultural practices tip line was a good idea we failed to articulate". Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  22. ^ Dickson, Janice (November 9, 2015). "Kellie Leitch campaigned with nearly 70 candidates during election". Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  23. ^ Maloney, Ryan (October 2, 2015). "Tories Pledge Tip Line To Combat 'Barbaric Cultural Practices'". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  24. ^ Zimonjic, Peter (April 21, 2016). "Kellie Leitch tears up over role in barbaric cultural practices tip line". CBC/Radio-Canada. CBC. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  25. ^ "How Nick Kouvalis turns candidates into winners -". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  26. ^ Proudfoot, Shannon. "Behind Kellie Leitch's 'sort-of' campaign for Conservative leader". Maclean's. Maclean's. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  27. ^ a b "Conservative MP Kellie Leitch won't run in 2019". CBC News. January 23, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  28. ^ a b Tunney, Catherine (September 2, 2016). "Kellie Leitch defends 'anti-Canadian values' survey question". CBC/Radio Canada. CBC News. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  29. ^ Smith, Joanna (September 6, 2016). "Kellie Leitch says values test is about tolerance". Rogers Media. Maclean's. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  30. ^ Stone, Laura (January 24, 2018). "Kellie Leitch, former Conservative leadership contender, to leave politics". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  31. ^ "Kellie Leitch on screening for Canadian values". Facebook. February 25, 2017.
  32. ^ "The cautionary tale of Kellie Leitch -". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  33. ^ "Q&A: Kellie Leitch, the potential future prime minister who wants to bring President-elect Trump's message to Canada". November 9, 2016. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  34. ^ McGregor, Janyce (December 6, 2016). "Conservative leadership contenders spend more time agreeing than debating in Moncton, N.B." CBC News. CBC News. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  35. ^ a b Browne, Rachel (December 5, 2016). "'I do not want their endorsement'". Vice. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  36. ^ Levitz, Stephanie (December 19, 2017). "Kellie Leitch Among Conservative MPs Facing Nomination Battle For 2019 Election". The Canadian Press. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  37. ^ Cullen, Catherine (March 23, 2018). "Kellie Leitch tears into rivals for her former riding, suggests they're not 'real' conservatives". CBC News. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  38. ^ Adams, Ian (March 24, 2018). "Essa Township's Dowdall wins Simcoe-Grey Conservative nomination". Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  39. ^ "Our Providers: Dr. Kellie Leitch brings world-class skills as surgical leader". The University of Mississippi Medical Center. December 1, 2019.
  40. ^ "How Kellie Leitch touched off a culture war -". September 23, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  41. ^ Official Voting Results - General Election (October 19, 2015) - Simcoe--Grey (Ontario)
  42. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates

External links[edit]

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