John Ivison: Jason Kenney’s newfound energy signals that the Tory leadership race has started in earnest

Good profile by John Ivison on Jason Kenney and his post-election reflections (I have great respect for former Minister Kenney from my time as former DG – Citizenship and Multiculturalism – as chronicled in my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism):

“The fatal flaw was our tone. It seemed too often the government went out of its way to make enemies, not friends, starting with the media,” he said.

“On identity questions, every public opinion poll demonstrated a super-majority of Canadians supporting the notion that the citizenship oath should be taken openly … So I think we were on the right side of those issues substantively and politically. But when dealing with sensitive issues you have to communicate with great nuance and subtlety. I accept that was not necessarily the case in our campaign.”

The received wisdom is that these mistakes led to a hemorrhaging of support from the loose coalition of new Canadians that Kenney, more than anyone else, had helped knit together. But he disputes there was a repudiation of the Conservative message among ethnic voters.

“We got 32 per cent of the new Canadian vote, down from the low 40s in 2011, which was proportionate to our popular vote. It’s encouraging that it is still a far higher percentage than the Conservative Party has attracted historically. The problem is our vote didn’t grow with the electorate, which was mostly an issue with the under-30s. The bottom line is we now have a competitive environment. It wasn’t catastrophic.”

What Kenney doesn’t say, is that while the Conservatives got 32 percent of the new Canadian vote, this was 20 points behind the Liberals in the 33 ridings where visible minorities are in the majority (905, BC’s lower mainland) – and where he personally invested considerable time in wooing those communities.

It was not only a question of tone in these ridings: a number of citizenship and immigration changes did not, in the end, go down well with many voters.

“Showing up” was not enough.

Source: John Ivison: Jason Kenney’s newfound energy signals that the Tory leadership race has started in earnest

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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