Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Kenney steps in it again

The possible future leader of the Conservative party, exposed as overriding the recommendations to include mentions of gay rights in his new Canadian citizenship guide: "Immigration Minister Kenney nixed gay rights in citizenship guide: documents." Life in Stephen Harper's divisive Canada continues. Citizens are but political pawns, if you're not a group that is politically useful to them, you're roadkill.

Remember how they hid under the umbrella of that esteemed contributor panel as justification for the content of the new guide?
In developing the study guide, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) consulted with a panel of prominent Canadians, including public figures, authors and historians.
Cover for the political choices Kenney was personally making behind the scenes:
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney blocked any reference to gay rights in a new study guide for immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship, The Canadian Press has learned.

Internal documents show an early draft of the guide contained sections noting that homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation; and that same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005.

But Kenney, who fought same-sex marriage when it was debated in Parliament, ordered those key sections removed when his office sent its comments to the department last June. Senior department officials duly cut out the material, but made a last-ditch plea with Kenney in early August to have it reinstated.
One more example of what the Harper government just doesn't get. A Citizenship Guide speaks to Canada as a whole, what it is, who we are, each and every citizen, group, up and down. A big part of our recent history is in fact the legalization of same-sex marriage and that should have been recognized in the guide. When it comes to governing however, these Conservatives cannot bring themselves to govern on behalf of all Canadians.

One of the more telling aspects of the report, this:
The gay-rights group Egale Canada met with the minister in early December after learning the booklet made no reference to gay and lesbian rights, and is negotiating with the department to have them included in the next printing, about a year away.

Executive director Helen Kennedy said Kenney told the group that gay rights had been "overlooked" when the guide was being prepared. She expressed surprise when told draft versions contained references to gay rights and that they were ordered removed.

"I'm hopeful and optimistic that we're going to get it fixed because we're not happy with it." (emphasis added)
"Overlooked" is apparently Conservative-speak for "intentionally excluded for ideological and/or political reasons."

The guide should be revised, no question. More inclusive Canada, not exclusive, please.

Update (8:50 p.m.): I'd be curious to know when these documents were released to CP and if it is a product of a new easing up in terms of access to information given the intense scrutiny that the government is presently undergoing.

Or maybe, as a little birdie said to me this afternoon, Kenney was too busy with all the "recalibrating" in his department over prorogation and missed these...