Paul Calandra says it was a ‘mistake’ to focus on niqab, barbaric practices

Interesting coming from Calandra, who was one of the more obnoxious practitioners of repeating inane and irrelevant talking points.

Yet he shows more awareness than defeated CIC Minister Alexander (see this short video Catching up with outgoing cabinet minister Chris Alexander).

Perhaps if he and his colleagues engaged in more discussion with Canadians before the election, allowing for a better balance of witnesses during committee hearings, rather than ramming through changes, a more solid basis would have been laid:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s handpicked parliamentary secretary says the Conservative Party’s focus on identity issues — the niqab, stripping citizenship from dual nationals and launching a barbaric cultural practices hot line — was a mistake that cost the party votes among new Canadians.

“There was a lot of confusion and a lot of first-generation Canadians said ‘OK, we’re not ready to endorse that,'” Paul Calandra said in an interview with Rosemary Barton on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

“Obviously, yeah, in retrospect [it was a mistake],” he said, and one that likely led to his defeat at the hands of his Liberal opponent, Jane Philpott, in the riding of Markham–Stouffville.

“We had our challenges, obviously, in the early goings — we had the Duffy trial, then the Syrian refugee crisis — but through it all we were still in a very good spot,” Calandra said.

Voters were responding to Conservative messaging around low taxes, the economy and public safety, he said, but then the party started to stray into identity politics, and doubled down on rhetoric about Islamic face coverings and homegrown terrorism.

The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act was a particular sticking point. The Conservative-drafted law, known during the legislative process as Bill C-24, strips dual nationals of their citizenship if they are convicted of terrorism or high treason, among other serious offences.

It was not that voters disagreed with what the Conservatives had enacted, but that they were “confused” about how widely the law could be applied, Calandra said, and the Liberals pounced, shrewdly denouncing the policy as a slippery slope that created two classes of citizenship.

“‘What does it mean for me? How will that impact my family,'” Calandra said, reciting some of the questions he heard from voters at the door. “I had a call … ‘If I’m caught shoplifting does that mean my family has to go?'”

Source: Paul Calandra says it was a ‘mistake’ to focus on niqab, barbaric practices – Politics – CBC News

Aaron Wherry of Macleans provides comments by Conservative MPs:

C-24, the bill that allows the federal government to revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens if an individual is convicted of treason or terrorism or takes up arms against Canada, was a similarly problematic issue, unexpectedly raising concerns for immigrants and their families. “Somehow we missed stuff, because I would have been one hundred percent behind it,” says [Brad] Trost [re-elected in Saskatchewan], “but for some reason people who should’ve understood that it wasn’t meant at them were a little bit insecure.” …
In Toronto, the Prime Minister made two appearances in the company of the Ford brothers, Rob and Doug, but, according to a national Innovative Research poll conducted shortly after the election, that did far more harm than good. Almost 10 times as many potential Conservative voters were less likely (49 per cent) than more likely (6.4 per cent) to vote Conservative because of Harper’s appearance with the Fords, who have practically become a worldwide monument to bad behaviour. “It’s hard to see a more self-destructive move by a campaign,” says Innovative Research owner Greg Lyle. This was a bigger turnoff for these voters than the trial of disgraced former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy (30 per cent), the party’s negative ads (26 per cent) or its anti-niqab stance (23 per cent.)

Source: How the Conservative campaign got it so spectacularly wrong – Macleans.ca

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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