Jason Kenney fires back at Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on niqabs - Macleans.ca

Jason Kenney fires back at Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on niqabs

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi calls the PM’s position on niqabs and refugees ‘dangerous’ and ‘disgusting’

Naheed Nenshi (Darren Makowichuk/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency)

Naheed Nenshi (Darren Makowichuk/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency)

Minister of Defence Jason Kenney and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi are now in a war of words over the niqab issue.

Kenney hit back at Nenshi’s statement that Stephen Harper is playing a “dangerous” political game with his position on the niqab and “dog whistle politics” by accusing the Calgary mayor of playing dangerous politics himself.

“If anything’s dangerous, it would be legitimizing a medieval tribal custom that treats women as property rather than people …” Kenney told the Calgary Herald earlier Thursday. “It seems to me that it’s the mayor and people like him who are politicizing it. I don’t think this should be an issue of contention.”

Nenshi did not waste time in taking on the Defence Minister. Here’s what he tweeted right back:

In an interview on SiriusXM’s Everything is Political, Nenshi told Evan Solomon that Harper’s decision to challenge the Federal Court of Appeal decision over the ability of a woman to wear a niqab during citizenship ceremonies is being done merely in the service of scoring political points.

“This is unbelievably dangerous stuff,” Nenshi said. “I spoke with a group of mayors and councillors from all over Alberta last week, and in my speech with all of these people from small-town Alberta, I stood up and said this is disgusting and it is time for us to say stop it—to say this is enough,” Nenshi said.

He called out the Conservatives’ request for stay on the Federal Court of Appeal decision on the niqab. “They are spending millions of millions of dollars of yours and my money on what is an unwinnable appeal in order to appeal to a certain political segment because they think the polls say that most people don’t want this,”  Nenshi said.

Nenshi was complimentary on the stances both Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau have taken on the issue.

Since 2011, two women have been denied the ability to take the citizenship oath without removing their face covering, Sonia Lesage, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada told the CBC.

On the Syrian refugee debate, Nenshi was also very critical of the way Harper has approached the situation. “This has been massively and disgustingly politicized,” Nenshi told Solomon. “I was happy that the Prime Minister in the last debate—the Munk Debate—didn’t go back to that tired security argument,” he said.

But on other issues, like the cap and trade system, Nenshi criticized the NDP and the Liberal position. He views cap and trade systems as inefficient, failed ideas and he advocates a straightforward carbon tax.

“On this one [Alberta] Premier [Rachel] Notley is right,” Nenshi said. “Cap and trade systems have not been shown to work and if you want to price carbon, then I would listen to the CEO of Suncor who suggests a clean transparent carbon tax makes a bunch more sense than a cap and trade system that just creates jobs for traders.”

Nenshi is in line with the anti-cap and trade position Notley has taken, even though it contradicts the position held by Thomas Mulcair.

“I don’t think that my premier should necessarily agree with everything the federal NDP says,” Nenshi said. “I don’t think she should disagree with everything the federal Conservatives say.”

Mulcair has promised to put in place a cap and trade system to curb big polluters’ greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Notley said Tuesday that while she is onside with the federal NDP’s plan to combat emissions, she’s wary of a cap and trade plan that would transfer capital outside of Alberta and favours a carbon tax on large emitters.

But Nenshi was clearly insulted by the criticisms Stephen Harper has levelled at  Notley throughout the campaign for her policies on taxes, saying that Harper was essentially calling Alberta voters “stupid.”

“I’m not sure it’s great political strategy to tell people they are stupid for the government they elected five months ago. The polls are certainly showing that Premier Notley is still the second-most popular premier in Alberta,” Nenshi said of Harper’s comments.


Jason Kenney fires back at Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on niqabs

  1. Jeepers. Why on earth would Naheed be so supportive of the niqab and opening the borders to half the Middle East? I can’t imagine where he may have formed these opinions…..

    • The mayor is a smart man and can see through Harper’s demagoguery. And braver than Harper and his fellow niqabaphobes, as he’s not afraid of a simple piece of cloth.

    • Mr Nenshi has more than a modicum of intelligence and is capable of critical thinking which he uses on a regular basis. Your implication that it is because he is Muslim is silly.

    • At the University of Calgary? Harvard? McKinsey? Calgary City Hall? You’re right, it’s basically been one madrasa after another for this guy.

    • Has it ever occurred to you to wonder why it is necessary to present a perfectly reasonable support for a woman’s right to wear whatever makes her secure, as support for the garment? Has it occurred to you to wonder why concern for the people displaced by war and drought should be portrayed as “opening the borders to half the Middle East”? If you have to misinterpret or exaggerate the situation to make your point, consider that you might not have had a point to make in the first place…

    • I dunno. He was born inn Toronto and his parents are SE Asian from Tanzania

    • Some of the bigots who post here amaze me. Bigotry is apparently acceptable these days.

      • I am always amazed at the number of people ready and willing to jump up and call others “bigots”. The niqab has a very specific connation and it is not ant-Muslim. My guess is that many Muslims would oppose the niqab being worn in a citizenship ceremony. Regarging the refugees, everyone wants to help while being cautious about who and how many people are coming to Canada. We are looking for balance and there is nothing to suggest that Harper’s position on this is at all unreasonable.

        • I’m always amazed at the number of bigots.

  2. Nenshi knows that if the Harpers niqab gains favour today maybe it will be blue hair and pants for women tomorrow, in Canada you don’t have to go back many generations when those were not allowed. Bravo to Nenshi for standing up to a bully.
    Demographically Canada is not replacing the people it has. This is allowing the federal government to make $Billions in TFW’s trafficked for labour. 380,000 TFW if they were allowed to immigrate and bring their families here would then spend their paycheques here.

    • No one is disallowing niqab’s in Canada. Nenshi is making the issues even more divisive than it already is. He is ideally positioned to try to smooth the troubled waters (e.g. “Canadians are very skilled at finding compromise.” Instead, he pours fuel on the flames with fear-mongering rhetoric, turning the whole thing into even more of a divisive political issue.

  3. “They are spending millions of millions of dollars of yours and my money on what is an unwinnable appeal in order to appeal to a certain political segment because they think the polls say that most people don’t want this,” Nenshi said.

    Exactly. On this and any number of other fronts, Harper has passed laws knowing full well they would not pass a court challenge. But both the laws themselves, and the constant defeat of those laws, gets a certain group of supporters anxious to donate to – and vote for – the CPC. So to him, it’s worth wasting Parliament’s time – and huge amounts of taxpayers’ dollars for lawyers – to pass and defend these laws.

    Super sleazy… but it has worked for him time and again.

    • Nothing sleezy. The Conservatives have pursued the issue because they think it is the right thing to do — apparently lots of Canadians agree. Should they be backing off just because a lower court disagrees? The Supreme Court is the final decider, and it is important to get their judgement on this. Moreover, they have the option of more concrete legislation as needed and the notwithstanding clause. Many Canadians would disagree with you that this is “wasting time”.

  4. Bravo Naheed Nenshi!

  5. Calgary and Edmonton have long histories of leaning further left with their mayors than they vote federally.

    Instead of taking shots at Harper from the Mayor’s chair why didn’t Nenshi himself run federally?

    I don’t vote for my mayor based on their views on federal issues. That’s why we have a federal government.

    • Glad to see you believe in free speech. Oh wait, you don’t.

      • I think the problem is that Nenshi’s views in this case simply create more division. Politicians at the municipal and provincial levels are wise to keep a low profile during a federal election. Nenshi should be particularly cautious because Harper represents one of his ridings. That could backfire when it becomes time for him to run again.

  6. Kenney is an abomination, a minister of propaganda befitting a fascist junta. Why are alarm bells not going off in Canada when they see this kind of hatchet man in a high position of power?

    • Unfortunately, a lot of Canadians are being swayed by Harper’s Australian campaign manager (I guess the Cons don’t have enough faith in a Canadian to run their ship)…………Lynton Crosby used this type of racist lowest-common-denominator propoganda in the recent British election to help David Cameron (Conservative, of course) capture a majority.

  7. Jason Kenney (who sees himself as the next Conservative party leader……..I’ll bet he hopes that his party wins a minority, so he has an excuse to take down Harper) versus Nenshi in a debate? My money would be on Nenshi (he seems like an intelligent, thoughtful, decent person…………….unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Kenney).

    • Kenney is classic “second banana” material, he’s the Ed MacMahon to Harper’s Johnny Carson.

      The political leader he most reminds me of is Bernard Landry, always shouting from the sidelines, and when he got a chance to sit in the big chair, his incompetence was there for all to see.

      Some might compare him to Stock Day in that regard, but he at least had a somewhat pleasant (if dim) personality.

      • I have always been struck by the similarities between Justin and Stockwell Day (full disclosure, I actually liked Stock). Their rhetoric around doing politics differently is very similar and Stock’s and Justin’s naivete very apparent. In both cases, I cannot quibble with the “pleasant (if dim) personality observation. Stock and Justin — two peas in a pod.