Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another likely candidate for the Conservative party leadership

Updated below...

Greg Weston's column today deals with the Harper succession speculation, ramping up apparently in Ottawa. That's a shame. Noted in Weston's column, some leadership mojo for Jason Kenney, introduced in a tongue in cheek manner by Weston but nevertheless serious:
There is, of course, absolutely nothing happening now.

It is pure coincidence, for example, that while we were breaking bread recently with a couple of Conservative MPs who would back Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a leadership contest, he has suddenly been more in the news lately than the prime minister.

One day the hard-right Alberta MP is decrying Canada's long-broken refugee system; the next he is thinking all newcomers should have to speak English or French.

Kenney's biggest challenge could come from a resurrected Stockwell Day since both would be fishing in the same pond of former Alliance votes.
Kenney was in the news quite a bit this week with the Galloway matter, unlikely to die down this week, and gave a number of media interviews. Here's part of a Don Martin column that follows an interview between the two which illustrates how Kenney is using his position politically and perhaps with a view to enlisting political support from MPs and potential MPs:
"While Kenney's aiming to remake immigration into a more selective process, recruiting only the fittest for an economy that will bounce back into a skilled labour shortage, the politics of every action are never far from his sight.

For example, a Brampton riding hopeful named Parm Gill (described in local media as an 'upcoming leader' of the Conservatives) tagged along on Kenney's recent trip to India and was bragging to reporters that the government would move to reduce the immigration rejection rate for Punjabi youth to 20 per cent from 55 per cent now.

That smells more like a play for political gains back home than economic recruitment and, in a candid moment, Jason Kenney would probably agree."(emphasis added)
Ruby Dhalla barely defeated Gill in Brampton-Springdale in the last election, by less than a thousand votes. Judging by the above, they're certainly attempting to ensure that they pick up that seat next time for Gill, courtesy of Kenney's immigration machinations. Note that the policy mentioned above might also move votes in a neighbouring GTA riding, that of Andrew Kania who had just a 231 vote margin over the Conservative in Brampton West.

Kenney's cultivated power base is being sought out provincially. Ontario PC leadership candidates are alleged to be seeking his contacts:
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who hails from Calgary, may also be wooed by provincial Tories anxious to gain access to his contacts in ethnic communities in the Toronto area.

He was invited to speak at the provincial party's convention last month, where he joked about having been made an "honorary" Ontarian.
Then there was the National Post profile on Saturday of Kenney in which the picture of Kenney as systematically and tirelessly pursuing electoral votes in tandem with his governmental responsibilities is reinforced, all with Harper's blessing as conveyed through Tom Flanagan, of course.

Add it all up and it certainly appears that Kenney is looking to be a leadership candidate, whenever that race might occur.

Update (5 p.m.): From Kenney's twitter feed today:
"Heading to roundtable with Sikh community folks in Brampton, with indefatigable candidate of record Parm Gill."
The political campaign never ends...