Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Jason Kenney's very politicized Immigration Ministry

A review here of some of the more recent issues with Kenney's mixing of partisan matters with his duties as Minister of Immigration. As well, one older item, below, that may be more relevant now as we live through the present day controversy of his office being used to launch a Conservative party fundraising effort. Kenney's conflict of interest as Minister and partisan organizer responsible for vote getting in multicultural communities has drawn attention for quite a while now but seems to be blossoming at the moment. And based on new revelations, may a thousand flowers bloom. From last night, there was this bit of news:
An email sent Jan. 26 to at least one refugee rights organization directly attacks the policies of the Bloc Québécois. The email, obtained by La Presse, is signed “the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.”

“The Bloc can boast about defending Quebec’s interests, but the reality is very different,” the minister wrote, addressing visas imposed on Mexicans by his government. “Happily our Conservative government delivered the goods for Quebecers!”

Stephan Reichold, director of a refugee and immigrant umbrella group called TCRI, said he hasn’t seen such “partisan” discourse from an immigration minister in “10 to 15 years.”
There are two more letters reported in La Presse today.

There was also an incident cited in a Hill Times report yesterday. Kenney disclosed during a conference call to South Asian media the confidential proceedings of the Commons Board of Internal Economy on a Bloc attempt to ban the kirpan in the Commons. It's not quite clear from the report but it appears as if this conference call may have been done in a ministerial capacity and Kenney breached that confidence in order to portray the Conservatives as having led the opposition to the effort.

Here's another one from a few years ago. Kenney's political pal, Parm Gill, Ruby Dhalla's opponent in Brampton-Springdale in the last election and the upcoming one, has accompanied Kenney to India, on a government trip where partisan interests blurred:
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.
(Material also here.) Adam Radwanski wrote in spring 2009 about the matter of Kenney's conflict of interest as Immigration Minister and partisan organizer. He raised the Gill matter as well:
That he appeared at a Sikh parade alongside Parm Gill - Dhalla's Conservative opponent in the next election - isn't a huge deal. But the fact that Kenney brought Gill along with him on a recent trip to India - a trip that was made on behalf of the government of Canada, not the Conservative Party - is a little odd. And it's all the more so given that Gill was apparently freelancing to reporters that more Punjabi youth would soon be let into the country, which seems to have had less to do with government policy than with scoring points with voters.
A few items to think about as Kenney regales the nation about his many partisan activities that are totally separate and apart from his daytime duties as Immigration Minister.