'I take full responsibility' - Macleans.ca

‘I take full responsibility’


A day after the Jason Kenney’s press secretary said “the minister’s signature isn’t on any decision note or anywhere else,” Mr. Kenney rose during Question Period and said, “I take full responsibility for Discover Canada.”

That was in response to Olivia Chow’s first question. With her follow-up, she suggested “newcomers need to know that gay-bashing is illegal” and that “they need to know that gay marriage is to be celebrated.” Mr. Kenney responded that perhaps he has “a higher estimation than the member does about new Canadians” and that he does not believe “that new Canadians are potential gay-bashers.”

This particular point is perhaps interesting because the new citizenship guide does specifically warn that Canada does not tolerate “spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’ female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence.”

The full exchanges between Marlene Jennings and Kenney and Chow and Kenney after the jump.

L’hon. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): Monsieur le Président, il devient maintenant de plus en plus clair que ce guide sur la citoyenneté canadienne est plutôt un guide sur la citoyenneté conservatrice. Je comprends que le ministre n’est pas d’accord avec le mariage entre conjoints de même sexe, mais il ne peut pas choisir les droits fondamentaux qu’il veut faire respecter et les autres qu’il veut supprimer. Le ministre peut-il expliquer pourquoi il a volontairement biffé toute référence à la légalisation du mariage gai dans son guide partisan?

L’hon. Jason Kenney (ministre de la Citoyenneté, de l’Immigration et du Multiculturalisme, PCC): Monsieur le Président, je crois que la contestation de ce document est malheureuse. Il était bien accepté même par les députés du parti de ma collègue. L’ancien guide, publié sous le gouvernement libéral, ne faisait aucune mention des gais et lesbiennes au Canada, ni du droit de vote pour les femmes, ou de l’égalité entre les hommes et les femmes au Canada, de la taxe d’entrée pour les Chinois, de l’internement pendant les guerres, de la Révolution tranquille, de Louis Riel, du gouvernement responsable, des sports, des artistes et des héros canadiens. Cela ne faisait même pas référence au sacrifice des soldats canadiens durant les deux guerres du siècle dernier. Toutes ces choses sont mentionnées dans notre document.

Hon. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the minister takes the gold for skating. The Conservative government always refuses to take responsibility for its actions, shifting the blame to public servants and to political staffers. The government cannot pick and choose which equality rights to respect. The minister should admit that it was wrong to censor out this fundamental right or tell us whose rights are next on the Conservative chopping block, women, visible minorities, the disabled? Whose rights are next?

Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, after her party originally endorsed Discover Canada, it is unfortunate to hear her efforts to politicize it. I take full responsibility for the content of that document, which according to The Globe and Mail is “a welcome move that places a new and appropriate emphasis on Canada’s history and personalities”. The guide published under the Liberal government made zero mention of gays or lesbians, women’s voting rights, equality of men and women, aboriginal residential schools, the Chinese head tax, wartime internment, the Quiet Revolution, Louis Riel, responsible government, Canadian sports, artists, heroes, Remembrance Day or even the 110,000 Canadians who died in the two wars in the last century.—

Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP): Mr. Speaker, memos show that references to gay rights were shamefully deleted from the citizenship guide at the behest of the immigration minister. Half a million copies have been printed with gay history censored. The minister will not take responsibility and instead leaving his staff to blame. That simply is not acceptable. Will the minister do the right thing, admit his mistakes, stop laughing about this and immediately apologize to Canadians?

Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I take full responsibility for Discover Canada. About that the Montreal Gazette that “The 62-page guide is a solid step toward a healthy self-respecting Canadian nationalism we can all share”. Maclean’s said, “The remedy of the historical oversights of the previous versions the new citizenship guide also provides clear-eyed and forceful statements of the expectations of current Canadian values”. The old study guide, the one that is replaced, had zero mention of gays and lesbians in Canada. We corrected that in the new guide. However it is true, there is no section on marriage, there never was, and we are proud of this guide. We believe it does reflect the diversity of Canada.

Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP): Mr. Speaker, newcomers need to know that gay-bashing is illegal. They need to know that gay marriage is to be celebrated. Is the minister saying that those important elements of Canadian law should not be made known to new Canadians? Why is it missing? Why is it censored away from the new citizenship guide? Canadians are tolerant, peace-loving and we value our freedom. Let us make sure that newcomers are welcomed in this spirit. Will the minister immediately restore this reference to gay rights and gay history to the citizenship guide right now?

Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, perhaps I have a higher estimation than the member does about new Canadians. I do not believe that new Canadians are potential gay-bashers. I believe that new Canadians come here to respect our laws and the dignity of other Canadians. We make very clear in this document that was well accepted right across, I believe, the political spectrum, right across the country, that there are rights and responsibilities, and among those responsibilities are following the laws and respecting the dignity of all Canadians. I am proud that this is the first citizenship guide that does mention gay and lesbian Canadians, unlike the one that it replaces.


‘I take full responsibility’

  1. Jason Kenney is a king at skirting questions. He never answers any of Ms. Olivia Chow's questions. He admits no wrong or regret that the sections mentioning gay rights were removed. Instead he just says "I take full responsibility for Discover Canada." There is no admission of wrong doing here or regret, if anything, he is proud to take responsibility for the publication. Proud he was able to get away with dismissing gay rights in Canada.

    It is pretty weak that he cites the previous publication printed under the Liberal Government in 1995. He cites many negative points in Canadian History that were not mentioned in that publication. What is he trying to say. Is he suggesting that the progress of gay rights as negative?

    Decriminalizing homosexuality, progress of equal rights, and gay marriage are positive moments in Canadian history. Jason Kenney has a history of hostility towards the gay community. He even once said that gays have every right to marry whoever they want — as long as it isn't someone of the same sex.

    Mr. Jason Kenney should stop being underhanded and tell the Canadian people how he really feels about gay people and who authorized the removal of gay equal rights content in the "Discover Canada" publication. I want to see true bigotry and not just the mask.

    • Well put.

    • "He admits no wrong or regret…"

      Maybe he wants to be the leader one day, and is simply following Harper's stellar example.

  2. I notice the manual was pretty big on not hittin' your wife. Does Ms. Chow have “a higher estimation than the member does about new Canadians” and that [S]he does not believe “that new Canadians are potential [wife-beaters].”

  3. Give me a break pull-ease. If every special interest group would whine so much we might as well make it a 10 volume document complete with leather bindings. We have more important things to discuss!

    • Yeah. Let's take out all that stuff about spousal abuse. Abused spouses are a special interest group too!

    • We have more important things to discuss!

      You miss the point. If the Prime Minister, and his ministers and their juniors – Kenney about this – consider the public unworthy of being treated with the common respect of truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth without being placed under oath or their words being placed on the written record or their signature being affixed they are unworthy to hold office.

      This is not a matter of partisanship for if they will dissemble to the general public and to their enemies it is an absolute certainty they will do so to their followers as the faithful will rarely punish them [sternly] for their faithlessness.

    • Dead right! When will the gov't get back on track and make sure the next guide mentions that the Canadian anthem is a sexist ditty that Harper wants to hide behind?

  4. What was the first program these neo-Cons did away with when they formed their first minority govt.? The court challenges program. It was either Kenney or Baird who made the 'super intelligent' comment, "why would we pay someone to sue us". This would be a good example, stupid!

    Did anyone happen to notice the moment in time when they brought this great country to a stop? I don't think I actually noticed, honestly. But I do know it happened, because I can see us moving backwards now!!

  5. I demand a separation of church and state!! Right now!

    Leave your beliefs at the door when you do our business at Parliament!

  6. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, speaks at the Conservative Party Convention, Tehran, November 2008.

  7. I firmly believe the removal was intentional, and by Kenney at that, because the current government does NOT want to showcase Canada as a safe environment for a homosexual lifestyle.

  8. "Mr. Speaker, perhaps I have a higher estimation than the member does about new Canadians."

    What a disgusting human being.

    • Every session I have hope that the MPs will stop insulting one another's intelligence.

      Every session I realize that hope is in vain.

      • As of yesterday I have sworn off watching QP. It's just too disheartening to hear the PM and every Minister respond to every question with a mix of lying, dissembling and irrelevant counter-attacks.

        Good thing for them that not many people actually watch QP, and that media naturally don't offer a complete and rounded picture of the mendacity displayed at this daily event.

        • Actually, I think you may be perfectly suited to read Mr. Wherry`s Lib-slanted version of QP.

        • Well, a lot of the questions are pretty bad, too. The bunk that goes back and forth is pretty much an equal opportunity sport – I just have higher expectations of the government, because, well, they're the ones who are supposed to be…you know…governing. Not opposing. We have three other parties filling that job, a fourth just makes it look like a clown circus.

          Oddly enough, on a per-MP basis, I usually find that the Bloc's questions are the most reasonable and least-well-responded-to of the bunch.

  9. so when "Hmmmer" states that beliefs should not enter politics —i need to know- is this something you believe? Because if you do- it should be checked at the door too and not enter politics. You probably did not do well in philosophy + basic thought formation.

    • Here's a philosophical proposition for you: if beliefs do not enter politics (and by extension, governance), how will we govern?

  10. Wouldn't be the first time that the man was caught in a lie.

  11. Mr. Kenney is sending a under your breath message to the conservative base.with Harper's blessing that the government really doesn't appreciate or want to deal with the gay community, much like the base. That means lots of conservative votes at election time. The Harper government is doing the same thing that Bush did in the US to get re-elected to a second term. Religious feeding at the trough.

    The citizen guide should include all references to gay history in Canada because many of the new citizens coming into Canada come from many countries who abhor homosexuality. They need to know that those ideas won't be tolerated in this country and to leave that baggage at the door.

  12. Great point James Connors for your valuable points. And i like the conversation between Marlene Jennings and Kenney and Chow and Kenney.