The inside story of Jason Kenney’s campaign to win over ethnic votes

The secret to the success of Canada’s immigration minister

by Alec Castonguay

Adrian Wyld/CP

 

Last year, L’actualité, the sister publication to Maclean’s in Quebec, got unprecedented access to Canada’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Chief political reporter Alec Castonguay was given a rare behind-the-scenes look at the man who is arguably most responsible for delivering the Conservatives a majority in the last federal election and who is remaking the nation’s immigration policy. This is an edited, translated version of the story that appeared in the magazine and as a L’actualité ebook.

Jason Kenney scans the dense crowd of roughly 20,000 Sikh Canadians in traditional dress and multicoloured turbans here to mark Vaisakhi—the annual celebration commemorating the foundation of this community originally from India’s northeast. Sitting cross-legged on the thin grey carpeting covering the enormous stage, the minister is inwardly cringing.

He doesn’t like what he sees. In front of him, a dozen yellow and blue Khalistan flags are splitting the crowd near the podium, held by men fighting the hot early May sun in T-shirts. The man at the mic, speaking Punjabi, suddenly speeds up and radicalizes his tone. He speaks of genocide, of violent clashes and of the independence of Khalistan—a country that a faction of Sikh nationalists would like to carve from India. It’s too much. Kenney, who’s picked up some Punjabi since becoming minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism in 2008, stands mid-sentence, crosses the room and exits as three baffled Conservative MPs look on, unsure whether or not they should follow.

At the bottom of the steps, Kenney puts his shoes back on and raises his hand as if to rip off the orange bandana that all visitors wear inside Rexdale’s Sikh Spiritual Centre. He takes a deep breath, and restrains himself. A Sikh organizer approaches, looking contrite. “You are trying to exploit my presence here,” Kenney shouts, his stare fixed on the man in a white turban. “This is not a civilized way to behave. I warned you, and you did it anyway. I am aware that you would like to entertain the Prime Minister next year. You can forget it. He won’t be coming.” The minister makes his way to the exit, the Sikh organizer fast on his heels, apologizing profusely.

It had all started so well 25 minutes earlier. The party was in full swing. People sang and danced in all corners to a traditional Indian beat. Hundreds of children played in inflatable games erected along the four-lane street. Smells of spices and roast chicken tickled the nostrils.

Kenney took the stage with compliments reserved for a guest of honour. At the microphone he shouted a well-timed greeting: “Bole sonai hai? Sat siri akal!” Thousands of people responded: “Sat siri akal!” (The Sikh greeting roughly translates to: “Who stands up for truth?,” to which the crowd responds, “We stand up for truth, God is the ultimate truth!”)

The minister had bragged of the government’s achievements, including the creation, at the heart of the ministry of Foreign Affairs, of an office of religious freedoms to promote and defend all faiths. He highlighted that Vaisakhi is now a Canadian tradition because it is celebrated every year on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It was after his speech, once he was seated, that the Khalistan flags suddenly appeared.

At the entrance, several long minutes pass before the minister’s driver pulls up in his black Nissan SUV. As we sit down, Kenney turns to me. “I am so sorry,” he says in French.

He finally pulls off his bandana and explains that Sikh nationalists are now waging their war in Canada. They hope to convince the roughly 450,000 Canadians of Sikh origin, the majority of whom live in the suburbs of Toronto and Vancouver, to put pressure on their families still in India, but also on the Canadian government, to support their demands. They want Ottawa to recognize a genocide in which Sikhs were victims, in 1984 in India.

“It was an extremist speech,” he says. “I had to leave the room, otherwise the community would think I endorse such a campaign. Certain groups have sometimes tried to wield my prominence to advance their cause. I have to be vigilant at all times. They shouldn’t be encouraged to reproduce, in Canada, the tensions of their homelands.” It’s a message he reiterates to new immigrants from China and Tibet, Greece and Turkey, Israel and Iran.

He glances out the window and sighs. “Welcome to my world.”

He could just as easily have said “my worlds,” given how dramatically Canada’s new immigrant and multicultural canvas is growing and diversifying—it now includes almost 200 languages. More than 250,000 new immigrants arrive in Canada every year; in 2010, that number hit 280,000, the equivalent of 0.8 per cent of the population—the highest proportion of any industrialized country, followed by Great Britain and Germany (at 0.7 per cent each). Inevitably, this has brought profound political change. Kenney is at the forefront of these changes.

His objective: understanding, seducing and attracting ethnic communities to the Conservative party, an electorate once taken for granted by the Liberal Party of Canada. He has shaken thousands of hands, put away hundreds of very spicy meals and pulled off his shoes an incalculable number of times in entering mosques, temples or integration centres to give speeches. His methods are old school, far removed from social networks, where human contact, proximity and the fight for values undertaken by the Conservative party have gradually won over a large number of new Canadians. In the halls of government, it is plainly acknowledged: Kenney is the architect of the Conservative majority, having worked discreetly, yet tirelessly, for the past five years to build bridges with Canada’s ethnic communities. It’s a success that Britain’s Conservative Party would like to replicate, and that the U.S. Republican party, after its electoral drubbing in November, is cautiously eyeing.

It’s meticulous work, long and complex. With the patience of a Buddhist monk, the minister has had to figure out the subtleties of every community and learn its traditions in order to navigate competing demands and interests. It was no accident that after Justin Trudeau formally declared his intention to run for Liberal leader last October, his first destinations were Richmond, B.C., and Mississauga, Ont., two cities with heavy immigrant populations. Both had been Liberal ridings conquered by the Conservatives. In their way, Kenney, 44, and Trudeau, 40, represent the future of their parties.

And as they fight on this same battlefield, Kenney is putting everything on the line . He could become the next leader of the Canadian conservative movement.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

 

Kenney’s longevity and the scope of his reforms have surprised experts. “Immigration generally gets inherited by a junior minister with no real presence, anxious to trade up for a better cabinet post,” says Stephan Reichhold, director of an immigrant support network in Quebec. “Kenney is practically a deputy prime minister. He has been there for four years and has undertaken an unending number of reforms. Some are good, others are very ideological.”

Not bad for a guy who was barely interested in the politics of immigration before 2006 and wanted nothing to do with that role in cabinet. The young Alberta MP had even refused the role of immigration critic when the Tories were in opposition. “I saw the enormous pressure and the very delicate handling of complex politics the job required. Even when we took power, I wanted to run screaming when the Prime Minister talked to me about it,” Kenney recalls.

Stephen Harper convinced him with an argument that resonated: the very future of the conservative movement in Canada depended on it. Just before forming his first cabinet in early 2006, Harper met with Kenney in a hotel suite in Ottawa. “Do you remember the conversation we had in October 1994?” he asked. Kenney remembered it perfectly.

On that chilly fall day, the Reform party congress had just wrapped up in the capital and Harper, a newly elected MP of just 35, was sipping a beer at the Royal Oak Pub on Bank Street when Kenney went over to him. The two men knew each other because Kenney, despite his 26 years, was already heading the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Kenney laid out his theory: the division of the conservative movement between the Reform party and the Progressive Conservative party wasn’t the right’s only problem. “Even with a united right,” he said, “conservatism has peaked. Votes are becoming stagnant.” Conservatives, he added, would have to cross the “final frontier”: that of immigrants. “Look at demographic trends—it’s the future. Immigrants have the same values as us, we have to talk to them, to convince them.” Harper, skeptical, responded that this very liberal segment of the population would never vote Conservative. Better, in his opinion, to focus on native-born Canadians.

When, 12 years later, Harper took power at the helm of a minority government, he proposed that Kenney pursue the mission that he had defined, without quite realizing it, beer in hand, in an Ottawa bar. “Prove to me that I was wrong,” the Prime Minister challenged him. He named him prime minister’s parliamentary secretary and secretary of state for multiculturalism, with a double mandate.

The first, more political role requires that he make sure new immigrants integrate well. “People have to be able to conserve their identity as they are becoming integral parts of Canada,” Harper told him. “Multiculturalism cannot lead to the ghettoization of immigrants.” The other mandate is partisan: becoming the link between the government and cultural communities in order to increase the party’s odds of success in the next election.

Kenney came to understand the magnitude of the task in March 2006, during one of his first meetings in his new role. A leader from the Korean community of Vancouver, a respected doctor, squarely asked him why Conservatives are racist and anti-immigration. Surprised, Kenney shot back that it was former prime minister John Diefenbaker who eliminated racial discrimination in the selection of immigrants, in 1962. Then he launched into a speech about the values they share: family, a strong work ethic, the fight against criminality.

The Korean listened to him for a few minutes, then interrupted him. If the Korean community had voted for the NDP and the Liberals in Vancouver, he said, it was because those MPs helped immigrants settle and find housing. They became the face of Canadian authority. “Elected officials take part in our celebrations, they’re present in our media.”

For Kenney, a light went on. “It woke me up,” he says. “I understood that I would have to be everywhere at all times. Personal contact is crucial for new immigrants.”

Ever since then, the minister has been on the road three weekends out of four. Some Sundays, in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal, he takes part in as many as 20 cultural activities, starting at dawn in a temple and ending in darkness at a partisan reception. “In the last election campaign, I’d done so many that I became confused: I bowed to the wrong God in a church. I looked completely ridiculous,” he admits, laughing.

He only spends one day a month in his home riding of Calgary Southeast, which he’s represented since 1997. That didn’t stop him from being re-elected in 1997 with 76 per cent of the vote and a crushing lead of 42,000 votes—one of the country’s best results. “My voters understand that I work for the Conservative cause and that I have a full schedule,” Kenney says.

It’s a rhythm he manages to maintain, but it doesn’t stop him from bottoming out from time to time. “When I see the weekend arrive with 20 or 25 scheduled events—not counting travel—I sometimes feel a profound fatigue take over. I have to motivate myself by thinking that every gesture will count over the long term,” he says. It’s also a physical challenge. “People from the communities like to touch you, to embrace you, to hug you, and physical contact isn’t my strong suit.”

The minister has neither wife nor children. He shares his home in Alberta with his mom, Lynne, and has little time for friends or a love life. Those closest to him, however, don’t describe him as a loner. And he makes it a point to organize one or two receptions per year at his condo in Ottawa for his colleagues in government and Tory staffers.

Building a trusting relationship between the government and immigrant communities has fast become Kenney’s priority. Six to 10 times per year, his team organizes “friendship days” on the Hill, where leaders from cultural communities—spiritual leaders, heads of community centres, presidents of ethnic chambers of commerce, etc.—can arrange to meet ministers of their choosing. “It gives a chance for the communities to be heard at the highest level in Ottawa, and they appreciate the gesture,” says Agop Evereklian, who was Kenney’s chief of staff from 2008 to 2010 and, until recently, chief of staff to former Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay.

That access, however, makes teeth grind on the Hill. “They receive unfair treatment—effectively unofficial lobbying,” says one civil servant who requested anonymity.

The Kenney team has established itself as cabinet’s go-to brain trust on ethnic communities. They coordinate all the Prime Minister’s press releases to highlight different cultural holidays (Diwali, Vaisakhi, Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year). The apology and financial compensation for the Chinese head tax and the official recognition of the Armenian and Ukrainian genocides were also handled by Kenney. “He acts as a conductor to correct historical wrongs,” says Evereklian. “It might not seem important to the majority of the population, but for the concerned communities, it’s huge.”

In 2008, Kenney put in place the Community Historical Recognition Program, with a $13.5-million budget to finance commemorative projects and the erection of statues to honour key historical figures. Italian, Jewish, Indian and Chinese communities have all profited abundantly from it.

Kenney insisted that all his cabinet colleagues integrate into their inner circles Canadians of immigrant stock. His own staff is one of the most multi-ethnic, with political assistants in all the big cities who make connections with community leaders. It’s a veritable spiderweb that captures information in the field and transmits it to Ottawa every day.

The minister follows news first-hand by closely following the ethnic media, which he has translated and reads every morning as he wakes up. “I look at it before I read the national papers,” he says.

Kenney flips through a Chinese-Canadian newspaper he bought at a corner store en route to an event in Toronto. He asks his driver, who is of Chinese descent, to translate a few headlines and practises saying in Mandarin: “Hello, I am the minister of immigration.” His driver gives a full-throated laugh and tries to correct the accent of the minister, who is also enjoying himself. “Don’t you go making me look like an idiot,” Kenney says. “I’m counting on you.”

The minister’s car stops in front of the Lucky Moose Food Mart on Dundas Street. A two-foot-tall pink moose guards the entrance. In 2009, the store made headlines when its owner, David Chen, took justice into his own hands when he caught a shoplifter red-handed. After a scuffle, he tied him up before calling police. The thief filed assault charges. The NDP and Conservatives took the opportunity to draft a bill to permit store owners to use “reasonable force” against intruders without facing charges.

Today, photographers and journalists from the community wait for Kenney. He greets them in Mandarin, and buys a bottle of water and two more Chinese papers. He shakes Chen’s hand. Flashing cameras capture the moment. “We have kept our word,” he says. “We passed your bill into law.” Chen, who speaks broken English, contents himself with a smile. Later, Kenney tells me: “That story made a lot of noise in the Chinese press in Canada. That’s where I first heard about it.”

From 2006 to 2011, the number of Canadians who speak Mandarin jumped 51 per cent. There are now three daily papers published in the language in the country, not to mention TV news programs, weekly magazines and websites. There is similar growth with every ethnic community, be they Indian, Korean, Ukrainian or Filipino. “Previously, the Conservative party was completely absent,” Kenney says. He turns the page of the newspaper, where he sees a photo of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair at an event with the Chinese community in Richmond, in suburban Vancouver. “He seems to understand that this is important,” Kenney notes.

In the downtown Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina, with its significant immigrant population, the minister is greeted by honking horns as he walks the sidewalk. People stop to talk to him. A woman in her 20s insists he is as well-known in the Chinese community as Justin Bieber. “I can walk for hours in Calgary without being recognized, but not here,” he says.

Olivia Chow, the local New Democrat MP and widow of Jack Layton, admits that Kenney’s work forces MPs from other parties in ridings with sizable immigrant populations to “watch their backs.” “He’s a political animal,” she says. “He’s always there at the right moment, and his photo winds up in the papers.”

In Kenney’s office, everything is carefully planned. Less than a month before the last election campaign, his director of multicultural affairs, Kasra Nejatian, sent a letter to MPs and Conservative operatives asking them to quickly collect $200,000 for an ethnic media ad buy. With a total value of $378,000, it had to launch March 20, 2011, the date of the first match in the Cricket World Cup, a popular event in Asia.

Attached to the mailout was a 21-page document titled: “Breaking through: Building the Conservative brand in cultural communities.” Aimed at the Chinese, Jewish, Ukrainian and South Asian communities, the document outlined the Conservative strategy. “If Greater Toronto’s South Asians formed their own city, it would be the third-largest city in the country,” it read. The take-away points were neatly summed up: “There are lots of ethnic voters. There will be quite a few more soon. They live where we need to win.”

Once charmed, the document added, ethnic communities could stay loyal for a very long time. Ten “very ethnic” ridings—where immigrants represent more than 20 per cent of the population—were targeted in pre-election Conservative advertising: four in Ontario, four in B.C., one in Quebec and one in Manitoba. On election day, May 2, the Conservative party won seven of them.

The partisan document was printed on the official letterhead of Kenney’s ministry office—a point that drives New Democrat MP Pat Martin crazy. In this, he sees the perfect example of a government that has forgotten its neutrality and has thrown itself into serving the party’s political machine. “They violated all the rules in using government resources to solicit money for a party campaign,” says Martin. “It’s shocking. The minister should have resigned over it.”

Certain colleagues compare Kenney to a beaver, not just because of his slightly round frame or his patriotism but because he never stops working. By the time his assistants get to the office at 7 a.m., the minister is already there. And at 8 p.m., when they head home, Kenney leaves the Hill and heads to Laurier Street in downtown Ottawa, to his second office at the Immigration ministry. He heads to the 21st floor, closes the door, plugs his iPod into the stereo and listens to classical music or Gregorian chants as he reads his files, which are sometimes delicate—notably cases where a person is being deported from the country and he has the power to authorize a reprieve.

It’s generally during this second phase of his workday that he receives a call from 24 Sussex Drive. The Prime Minister often takes a few minutes, late in the night, to consult with Kenney (neither man sleeps much). The minister rarely heads home to his condo before midnight.

Devoted to his work, at ease with media (he is one of few anglophone ministers to give interviews in French), Kenney has gradually become one of Ottawa’s most influential ministers, along with John Baird at Foreign Affairs and Jim Flaherty at Finance. He sits on the cabinet committee on priorities and planning, the only committee to meet weekly to formulate government strategy. “He is one of very few ministers to command Harper’s total faith,” says a source close to them both.

The Toronto Marathon is paralyzing traffic this day, annoying Kenney, who likes to keep his schedule rolling. “Push back all appointments by 20 minutes, otherwise we’ll never make it,” he tells his assistant.

The car moves at a snail’s pace as we cross Parkdale-High Park, one of Hogtown’s most important immigrant landing grounds. Through the window, the minister takes the time to show me around the disadvantaged riding represented by New Democrat Peggy Nash. He knows these communities, and their habits, by heart. There, a Vietnamese community centre; here, a Polish Catholic Church; there, two Romas pushing a shopping cart. All along King Street, it’s a Canada belonging to new immigrants and refugees, often disoriented and troubled.

He pulls out the previous day’s Globe and Mail, which launched a series on immigration. The article states that Canada should be admitting one million new immigrants per year—four times what it now admits—to fuel economic growth. “That’s insanity,” says Kenney. “You need to allow people time to integrate. They need good salaries, good-quality jobs, not just quantity.”

Above all, you need to consider perceptions, he adds, citing a recent Angus Reid poll that showed nearly one Canadian out of two (46 per cent) believes that immigration has a negative effect on the country—a five-point jump in a year. Almost 39 per cent of respondents believe immigration should stay at current levels, and 38 per cent think it should be reduced. “I need to assure myself that Canadians continue to have confidence in the system,” he says. “Immigration is an asset, but prejudices run deep. Opening the floodgates won’t help new Canadians.”

Adrian Wyld/CP Images

Does Kenney have ambitions to succeed Harper? Among Conservative activists and party faithful, there is no doubt: Kenney will be waiting in the wings. His bilingualism and the formidable network he’s built at the heart of ethnic communities will be his greatest assets.

Another indication of his intentions: he’s established a vast database to keep in contact with activists. A few times a year, they receive an email from Kenney outlining his achievements.

Evereklian wouldn’t be surprised if Kenney took a run at the top job. “But he will never talk about it,” he says. “If anyone brings it up in his presence, he gets angry and puts the person in their place.”

In an interview, Kenney carefully qualifies his answer, without closing the door. “I’m too busy to think about it. In Stephen Harper, we have the most efficient leader the conservative movement has ever seen, and he will be there a long time. It’s not possible for me to be good at my work if I think of that.”

On a hot afternoon, in an industrial park in Mississauga, Kenney has been listening for more than 30 minutes to a dull speech from a Buddhist priest, sitting on the ground in the tiny Mahadhammika Temple of the Burmese community—which welcomes 500 refugees to Toronto every year.

The minister finally gets up, a knowing smile spreading across his face. He starts by highlighting that Canada spent $35 million in 2010 to help Burma rebuild after a horrific typhoon. He repeats that Aung San Suu Kyi, celebrated figure of Burma’s democrats, was named an honorary Canadian by the Harper government.

And then he delivers the goods: in his car, on the way to the temple, Kenney approved the refugee status of Burmese opposition leader Ler Wah Lo Bo, who arrived in Canada in 2002, but whose status was uncertain because of his contentious past in Burma. Screams and clapping shake the small prayer room, which is better used to Buddhist calm.

Later, back in the car, Kenney notes the Conservatives won 24 of 25 suburban Toronto ridings: “Without the support of the ethnic communities, we could never have done that.” The Conservatives estimate that they captured 42 per cent of the country’s ethnic vote last election—more than 30 per cent of their total vote, and more than any other party. “I have no intention of stopping now.”

A source close to the Prime Minister admits that the day after the election, many believed Kenney would change ministries and be given a promotion for his service to the cause. But the idea never crossed Harper’s mind. “He had too many important reforms under way, and the message sent to the cultural communities would be all wrong. After having courted and then obtained their vote, we take away their champion? No.”

Although he sometimes wishes for a change of scene and a new challenge, Kenney refuses to complain. The minister feels the Conservative cause needs his efforts.

After 15 minutes on the road, the car nears yet another event. Multicoloured turbans are more and more numerous. He starts listing the cities in suburban Toronto and Vancouver: Brampton, Mississauga, Richmond, Surrey, Etobicoke. A big part of the 30 seats that will be added to the House by the next election, in 2015, will come from these rapidly growing, increasingly multi-ethnic regions. He smiles. “It should be very good for us,” he says, taking a step toward the turbans.




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The inside story of Jason Kenney’s campaign to win over ethnic votes

  1. Conning the ethnic vote on the taxpayer dime. Disgusting.

    • Conning them? It sounds to me like he’s listening to them and acting on their priorities. Isn’t that what we want our ministers to do?

      The problems are when his personal ideologies over-ride being a reasonable human being.

      • The question, though, is whether he is doing that for their benefit or the CPC’s. He is supposed to be acting on behalf of the Canadian government but the tone of the article implies his primary concern is increasing CPC votes. He is relentlessly campaigning for the CPC on taxpayer dollars.

        • No, I don’t think that’s the question, because isn’t the whole point of our electoral system exactly that? They stay in power by doing things for a plurality of Canadians and thus getting their votes. That’s just the system working as it should. It’s concerning that the size of the plurality required to keep a group in power continues to shrink, but that’s another discussion.

          There’s a difference, I think, between campaigning on tax-payer dollars, and acting for Canadians on tax-payer dollars. I don’t know enough about Kenney’s activities to say which is which, however.

          • From the article, it seems pretty clear that the mandate he has been given by the PM is to increase voter shares for the CPC among immigrant communities. The result is that immigrant communities are being pandered to and given many of the things they want.
            The approach should be: Deal with the immigrant communities to ensure their needs and the needs of Canada generally are both met. If they do a good job, then the party in power (the CPC) will likely benefit with increased voter share.
            One is the inverse of the other, though the net result may well end up the same,
            I will grant, though, that the article may provide perception bias, and that Kenney is actually putting the immigrant communities and the needs of Canada first, and the vote count second – but this isn’t the first piece I’ve read that indicates it is party above all else for Mr Kenney.

          • Keith, while this article focuses specifically on how he deals face-to-face with the ethnic community (and you can perceive that however you’d like), many of the moves he makes behind the scene would definitely would not be seen favourably by the ethnic communities, though these moves favour the economic wellbeing of our country.

            Just check our his 2013 immigration levels plan to see what I mean. For example, besides just limiting the intake of immigrants, he is making it harder for both unskilled and older would-be immigrants to be granted citizenship, purely for the economic wellbeing of our country. I don’t think this sits too well with many landed immigrants in this country, particularly those who would like to bring their older parents or family members into the country (who would not economically contribute to Canadian society). Such an immigration policy, I’d say, is hardly vote-pandering to the ethnic and immigrant communities.

          • You still haven’t addressed my primary concern, so I’ll restate it as clearly as I can: Is he campaigning on government time and the taxpayer’s dime? This article certainly makes it look like he is – and that would not be inconsistent with CPC practices generally.

    • The paternalism of Ron Waller laid bare ladies and gentlemen.

  2. I truly admire and respect Jason Kenney. He demonstrates his immense love for Canada by his tireless efforts to stand up and represent the values and freedoms of our immense land. These days, we simply must remain vigilant to agendas whose mission is to stifle our voices, suppress our freedoms to accommodate their own. You know they’re out there. I’m glad he’s at the helm of the Ministry of Immigration. Hold steadfast, Mr. Kenney.

    • Are you serious? Wow…do you remember Kenney denying entry into Canada of a British MP? How does that square with your belief that he supports freedom?

      • You mean that expelled Labour Party MP, who is said to have dined with and praised a certain Saddam Hussein …some alliances forged cannot be forgiven or forgotten. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that….no gray area when it comes to integrity.

        • An elected British MP….freedom?

        • The irony is delicious.

          • Do you mean delicious irony as in your handle “Tesla”…a Serbian surname. Hussein and Serbia were allies in that horrible “ethnic cleansing” of Kurds and Shiite Muslims during the 1980s and 1990s? While I don’t deny the good that can come from great debators on civil liberties, ie. Galloway and Hitchens….they must choose their alliances wisely – hanging with murderous fascists or pro-terrorists is not the way to go.

          • How could you possibly place Hitchens (RIP) in the same company as Galloway? The gods weep….

      • How does enforcing Canada’s laws and ensuring Canada’s SOVEREIGNTY square with your beliefs about Canada?

        Galloway supports Hamas,a terrorist organization. He was rightfully denied entry,the same way that any terrorist supporter would be denied entry,whether that person was a British MP or a factory worker from Akron.
        BTW,Galloway was an ardent supporter of the ‘Freedom Flotillas” that attempted to negate the Israeli maritime blockade.
        Remember that.The blockade was always called an illegal blockade,up until the UN finally said otherwise. Kenney was right again.

        • Hahahaha…I guess freedom is contingent on if the Conservatives agree with it or not. Newsflash buddy, that’s not freedom.

          • Seems to me your belittlement is yet another way of stifling freedom of speech. Who are the “thought police” here? Seriously, why not just say you disagree sans the sarcasm then give an example one can ponder.

  3. Ewww, look at the neck rolls. Blegh.

  4. Immigrants all have people like Kenney back in their own home countries, and they recognize when they are being used. They will use him in return to get what they want, and drop him the minute they don’t.

    And one thing they’re not getting is integration. They are living in small separate countries within Canada. Kenney calls them suburbs, but they used to be called ghettos.

    What he’s not doing is getting them jobs, and making them a part of Canada. He’s also not speaking to established Canadians and showing them how immigrants are good for Canada….explaining what they can contribute to the country, and how we need to behave with them.

    Eating ethnic food, bowing to ethnic gods, and wearing various ethnic head coverings isn’t accomplishing anything beyond cute photo ops. Immigrants are simply continuing the old country here….and that can be dangerous.

    • Emily, as an ethnic who spoke with Minister Kenney a few months ago, you’re wrong. Ethnics DO have people like Kenney in their countries, but they also have a resilient inferiority complex to the White man that originated because of colonialism (British Raj in India; look at interracial relationships in Canada for those of Japanese-descent).

      • If they felt inferior, they wouldn’t have tossed the white man out of Africa, India, China etc.

        The inferiority is solely in our minds, not theirs.

      • I wouldn’t concern myself replying to Emiliy’s nonsense EVERYONE is always wrong and she, only she knows the truth.

        • Not ‘everyone’….just Cons.

    • I complete agree with you. There is not even one comment in the article that leads to believe that immigrants are or will be consider Canadians ( in the real sense of the word) by the conservative government. Immigrants, to Honorable, Jason Kenney are only means to the end….

      • Kenney also appears to think that voter loyalty is cheaply bought. Apparently they don’t want homes or jobs or fair treatment….just have a meal with them and they’ll be grateful forever. The arrogance is unmistakable.

  5. This comment was deleted.

    • How dare you, sir! He’s far too busy to be a lecherous creep.

      • It’s not illegal to be gay you know.

        • She called him a lecherous creep; I think that’s a sexual-preference-neutral term. I’ve definitely known some straight males (and even a straight female or two) that match this profile.

          • So you have men and women both looking at you in a lecherous way….well, aren’t YOU lucky

          • How nice of you to notice :-)

        • BTW – it is OK for you to call him racist but not OK for someone to call him lecherous? At least Nik has personal experience on his side…

          • I didn’t call him lecherous….I said it wasn’t illegal to be gay.

          • Anne said lecherous… try to keep up. You then laid into her, assuming she was making an anti-gay remark. I just found it odd that you would take offense to that when you yourself accused him of being racist. First, that’s a bit of pot / kettle; second, you assumed facts not in evidence [assumed she made the comment because Kenney is gay when it may have had nothing to do with him being gay].

          • I know who said it….and I didn’t ‘lay into her’…I made a simple comment.

            You are really weird.

          • You essentially accused her of being anti-gay when her comment doesn’t read that way. Having been on the receiving end of your lies many times in the past, I make a point of taking you to task when you get on with such nonsense. If you don’t want me calling you on your lies, then… don’t lie.

          • As always, you are looking for a fight where none exists.

            Story of your life.

          • Again, you fail to see the irony of your own statement…

            I take it you aren’t allowed mirrors?

          • Bram, you are paranoid and belligerent, not to mention a fool…..and I have no interest in talking to you. Neither do most other people by the look of it..

    • You could have ‘had’ greatness, you flirtatious little Niko you.

    • It was probably your make-up and stilettos.

      • Well, if that was true, why was Kenney at transvestite gathering?

  6. Interesting that he’s responsible for the most racist initiative undertaken by the Federal government in at least 30 years – forcing muslim women to remove their veils in public to take the citizenship oath, then going on TV and dictating to muslims the meaning of their religion (something a petty government official should never ever do). It doesn’t speak well of us as a country we let him get away with that.

    • Islam is not a race.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • What part did you not understand? It’s one sentence.

        • You should have specified Arab. That is the kind of language Cons understand

      • Interesting, then, that he’s responsible for the most bigoted initiaitive… does that suit you better?

        • Are you a parent of GFMD? I didn’t know he needed assistance writing comments. Aren’t you so helpful and generous, a true good samaritan of the web, helping the less intelligent express themselves. Good for you!

          • Nah, if I was helping the less intelligent people express themselves, I’d be on your side.

          • I don’t have a side. There are no sides. There does happen to be the happy couple, you and GFMD, tweedle-dee and tweedlee-dum. Have you taken a honeymoon together?

          • I do find it funny how fact conservative supporters go for the ad hominem.. and how quickly they cry foul when it’s occasionally used against them.

          • What a laugh. Calling someone a bigot and a racist is ad-hominem, you idiot. Unbelievable.

          • Yes, it would be.
            Which is why I didn’t do it.
            I called the action bigoted, GFMD called it racist.
            Nowhere did either of us call the person who did it either of those things.

            You’re the one who first started commenting on the nature of the commentators, rather than address the argument presented. Presumably because you simply don’t have the ability to do so.

            Not surprising. I do wish you’d gain some self-awareness about it, though.

          • You are one heck of a piece of work, one heck of a hypocrite, there’s not an honest bone in your body, and not only that, you’re the biggest whining crybaby on the internet. I really don’t care what you think about me or anything at all, you can call anybody and anyone a bigot and a racist til the cows come home for all I care.

          • And what’s really funny about this exchange, is that if it was anybody else, I’d assume it was a form of deliberate humour, attempting to prove my point so forcefully.

            Sadly though, I expect you’re serious.. and what’s more, you don’t even see how it’s laughable.

          • You are just so incredibly stupid it’s difficult to comprehend. Not only that, you appear to be completely unaware. Most stupid people have an inkling that they’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer. You, on the other hand, have no idea, and you channel your stupidity into hypocrisy, arrogance, and incessant whining, to top it off. Bravo. Like I said, call whomever you like a racist, a bigot, and then go ahead and complain that you don’t get the respect you deserve. I don’t care.

          • LOL.. who’ve I called a bigot in this thread? I’m really quite curious.

  7. Excellent reading.
    There is nobody even close in the opposition that can match the dedication, hard-working and intelligent perception of Harper and Kenney.
    Fortunately for us the are also excellent government leaders, because they will be with us for a long, long time yet.

    • Aw, somebody’s got a man crush!

      • And someone is jealous.

  8. Good article, and well done Minister Kenney

  9. This comment was deleted.

      • WTF is a ‘cultural criminal’?

  10. This comment was deleted.

    • Oh…you mean racism?

      • Prove that.

        • It’s right in front of you…..and you approve.

          Trying for white immigrants.

          • WHAT???

            Go back and read the article again. Not a huge Kenney fan, but that’s just nonsense. If you are going to attack the man, do so with facts, not libel.

          • You’re silo-thinking again….only this one article has ever been published on Kenney, right?

          • Your statement says “it’s right in front of you”; to most people, a plain reading of that would mean there is content WITHIN THE ARTICLE to back your claim.
            If you want to discuss other articles, then at least post a link.

  11. As a Calgarian I’m incredibly insulted that not one CPC politician bothered to make an appearance at Calgary’s Gay Pride Parade last September, even with the Calgary Centre By-election looming. I’m especially disgusted that Jason Kenney, WHO IS GAY, couldn’t make his “one day a month” in Calgary that day. He can glad hand with people who aren’t his constituents in Toronto (when Calgary is 30% immigrant now!) but is the OBVIOUS choice for the CPC to demonstrate its efforts at inclusiveness and he stays away. Horrible.

    • Shhhh.. didn’t you know? We have a don’t ask don’t tell policy when it comes to politicians in Alberta.

  12. kenney lost my vote CIC is a disaster. spousal sponsorship wait times are sooo long.. ive been waiting over a year and my application status is still showing as received… this process is a joke and kenney just doesn’t care.

  13. I hate to say it, especially since it may have already been in the comments, but why does the article mention that Kenney doesn’t have a “wife”. Aren’t we a bit past making assumptions on the sexuality of our public figures. Not that it matters to the story, at all, but I really think it should say that Kenney doesn’t have a “partner”. No judgement, no assumptions.

  14. So, I have been censored for telling the truth. Hilarious and sad at the same time Maclean’s. Kenny checked me out, head to toe. We mock other male politicians when we catch them checking out a women but we’re not allowed to expose a male politician checking another male in the same way? Interesting.

    And FYI, I’ve been checked out by lots of guys and it doesn’t bother me, in fact, I take it as a compliment…eh, what can i say…i’m tall, dark and handsome, it comes with the territory but its very rare they portray the arrogance and obviousness of Kenney. It was offensive and beneath a Minister of the Crown.

    TIL…Maclean’s is not that independent.

    TIK…Jason Kenney is a Sith…just like Harper.

  15. What BS. Try being a little unbiased Macleans. He’s wasting taxpayers’ dollars for photo ops, pandering to immigrants and keeping his usual racist tone about himself while doing it.

  16. very good article, Minister Kenney is doing a wonderful work and ethnic communities feel close to him.

  17. the person who wrote this article should really do some REAL research, Sikhs are not “originally” from Northeast India, have no idea what this person is talking about…Sikhs are from PUNJAB, which is NorthWEST of the indian subcontinent

  18. “Bole so nihal, Sat Shri Akal” translates to “Whoever says this will get salvation, God is truth”

  19. “You’ve got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.” Stephen Harper

  20. Wow he is a racist, I cant believe he did that on vasakhi to us Sikhs this man should be charged and stripped of his position as a minister of immigration, he has no right to call that an extremist speech or any one in the crowd a extremist. This is why I no longer support conservatives, and he is a immigration minister, don’t you have to be friendly and understanding to take care of immigration. And everyone supporting him should know that they are doing nothing supporting a racist(evil) person and group.

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