Sociologist Cited Approvingly By Kellie Leitch Says Her Immigrant Screening Proposal Is A "Terrible Idea"

    “I don’t like being associated with her campaign and her proposal, because my book does not in any way, shape, or form justify her conclusions.”

    The sociologist whose book was cited by Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch as giving evidence of a dysfunctional immigration system says he wants nothing to do with her campaign.

    Liam Richards / THE CANADIAN PRESS

    Leitch used the first Conservative leadership debate on Wednesday as an opportunity to reiterate her controversial proposal to screen all immigrants for "anti-Canadian values." At one point she held up a copy of Points of Entry, written by McMaster University sociology professor Victor Satzewich, saying it gave evidence of how weak current immigration standards are.

    “Currently only one in ten immigrants to this country receive a face-to-face interview by a trained immigration officer," Leitch said on stage with 11 other leadership hopefuls. "The focus today seems to be on quotas. I’m concerned about that."

    "And it’s all in this book, [by] a sociologist who’s interviewed many immigration officials," she said.

    "Obviously I'm glad she read the book," Satzewich told BuzzFeed Canada. "Having said that, I very strongly disagree with her idea."

    CPAC / Via youtube.com

    Satzewich — whose research focuses on immigration, race, and ethnicity — called Leitch's proposed values test a "terrible idea" that would be a "nightmare" to implement.

    There are roughly 1.3 million people who apply to come to Canada each year, and doing face-to-face interviews with every single person would bring the immigration system "to a grinding halt," he said.

    "Generally, immigrants in Canada do integrate, and Canada actually does a pretty good job of integrating immigrants," he said. "It seems to me what she's proposing is kind of a solution in search of a problem."

    Leitch didn't just cite Satzewich's book on stage at the leadership debate. Her campaign website also prominently features the book cover on the front page, which he says surprised him.

    Satzewich said he has not been contacted by Leitch's campaign for his expertise or for permission. The Leitch campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but the book cover was subsequently removed from the candidate's website.

    "I don't like being associated with her campaign and her proposal, because my book does not in any way, shape, or form justify her conclusions."

    Satzewich also warned that something like Leitch's values test has been attempted before. From the late 1960s until 2002, immigration officials assigned points to potential newcomers based on "personal suitability," a subjective measure that was open to abuse and bias.

    "And yet the immigration department could never really define what personal suitability actually meant," Satzewich said. "What she's proposing is something similar, and it's going to be a bonanza for immigration lawyers and consultants who will then appeal decisions on those grounds."

    Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

    Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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