Laïcité: Kenney a fait part de son opposition à Legault

Not surprising and consistent during debates over the PQ’s value charter:

Le premier ministre albertain, Jason Kenney, ne s’est pas gêné pour manifester son opposition à la loi sur la laïcité lors de son tête-à-tête avec François Legault.

C’est ce qu’il a répondu à une question du Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD), mercredi, à l’Assemblée législative de l’Alberta.

Le porte-parole néo-démocrate en matière de multiculturalisme, Jasvir Deol, s’était levé pour lui demander s’il avait fait part de ses préoccupations à « son nouvel ami » québécois lors de leur rencontre du 12 juin dernier.

Les deux hommes ont tenu une rencontre de travail à Québec, puis soupé ensemble à la résidence officielle de M. Legault.

« Considérant que le premier ministre dit être en train de bâtir une nouvelle amitié avec le premier ministre du Québec, et considérant que les deux ont soupé ensemble mercredi dernier, avant que le premier ministre du Québec ne passe sa fin de semaine à se battre pour forcer l’adoption de sa loi raciste, M. le premier ministre, avez-vous exprimé des préoccupations à votre nouvel ami, le premier ministre du Québec, et lui avez-vous demandé d’abandonner immédiatement ce projet de loi ? » lui a demandé M. Deol.

À cela, M. Kenney a répondu : « Je lui ai fait part de mon opposition, et je pense parler pour la vaste majorité des Albertains quand je dis que nous croyons en la liberté de conscience, et que cette liberté doit être protégée, par exemple, pour les employés de l’État qui portent des signes religieux ostentatoires. »

Loi « haineuse »

M. Deol faisait écho au gazouillis de sa chef, Rachel Notley, diffusé lundi dernier, dans lequel elle dénonce « un jour triste pour le Canada quand le racisme devient loi ».

En Chambre, il a qualifié la loi québécoise de « haineuse », et a exhorté le premier ministre Kenney à la dénoncer sur les réseaux sociaux, ce que M. Kenney n’a finalement pas fait.

Or, Jason Kenney a tenu à rappeler lors de cet échange qu’il a déjà siégé comme ministre de la Citoyenneté, de l’Immigration et du Multiculturalisme sous Stephen Harper, à l’époque de la Charte des valeurs du Parti québécois, et qu’à ce titre, il était prêt à la contester devant les tribunaux.

« Je me suis toujours clairement opposé au projet de loi (du gouvernement Legault sur la laïcité), à cette approche, a-t-il déclaré mercredi. Même que quand j’étais ministre du Multiculturalisme, j’ai menacé publiquement de contester devant les tribunaux la Charte des valeurs du Parti québécois, qui comprenait des dispositions semblables. »

Il a également rappelé à l’opposition néo-démocrate qu’il avait soutenu la cause Multani en 2006, pour que les enfants de religion sikhe puissent porter un kirpan à l’école publique au Québec, et qu’il avait changé les règles pour que le kirpan puisse être porté dans les consulats canadiens, ainsi que dans les hauts-commissariats, partout à travers le pays.

En outre, a-t-il poursuivi, « j’ai appuyé le droit des filles à Montréal de porter le hidjab pour jouer au soccer. […] Mon bilan en cette matière est très clair », a-t-il indiqué.

La loi québécoise sur la laïcité, adoptée le 16 juin dernier, interdit le port de signes religieux aux employés de l’État en position d’autorité. Une enseignante au Québec qui tient à porter le hidjab, par exemple, ne pourra être embauchée par une commission scolaire.

D’ailleurs, le premier ministre François Legault a annoncé dans une entrevue à La Presse vendredi qu’il pourrait mettre une commission scolaire récalcitrante sous tutelle, après que la Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) eut déclaré qu’elle allait reporter l’application de la loi à 2020.

Ombre sur le Conseil de la fédération ?

L’enjeu de la laïcité pourrait jeter une ombre sur la rencontre annuelle du Conseil de la fédération, qui se tiendra à Saskatoon du 9 au 11 juillet.

En entrevue à La Presse canadienne, M. Deol a dit s’attendre à ce que tous les premiers ministres du Canada dénoncent d’une seule voix la loi votée par le gouvernement Legault.

Traditionnellement, les premiers ministres s’abstiennent de commenter les affaires internes des autres provinces. La situation est d’autant plus délicate que MM. Kenney et Legault sont à discuter d’autres enjeux, tels que le transport de pétrole et la sélection des immigrants.

« C’est discriminatoire […] ce n’est pas ça la laïcité, a plaidé le député d’Edmonton-Meadows. La laïcité rassemble les gens, respecte les religions de façon égale, et non seulement ça, mais elle permet aux gens de […] contribuer à la société », a-t-il dit.

« Clairement, cette loi divise les communautés en criminalisant les choix faits par les minorités », a-t-il ajouté.

Source: Laïcité: Kenney a fait part de son opposition à Legault

Is unleashing Jason Kenney on Ontario a good idea for the Tories?

More commentary on Alberta Premier Kenney’s plans to campaign in the 905 and other immigrant and visible minority rich ridings:

A premier spending days campaigning in a different province for an election of a different order of government: in most cases, it would be political catnip for the opposition back in his province. Alberta in 2019, I cannot say enough, is not most cases. Premier Jason Kenney could gain popularity at home if he ditches Edmonton this fall to hold fundraisers in Markham, Brampton and Mississauga, in service of flipping the federal election away from Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. A typical opposition argument would condemn the premier for wooing Ontarians while a litany of Alberta issues demand attention. But in the minds of many frustrated Albertans, ousting Trudeau is one of the province’s most pressing issues.

This clears Kenney to decamp to Toronto’s populous suburbs for a few brief stretches this fall to stump for Andrew Scheer and Conservative candidates, as the Globe and Mail reports he will. It’s a reprise of the campaign outreach Stephen Harper’s former minister did in immigrant communities in the 905 area and elsewhere in past federal elections. While Albertans will likely stomach their premier’s extra-curricular activities, it’s more of an open question what the net benefit of this would be to Scheer’s Conservatives, whose electoral fortunes could be determined in the roughly two dozen seats that ring Toronto. Will the positives outweigh the negatives?

There’s no clear successor in Scheer’s current caucus to Kenney, the longtime immigration minister and tireless ethnic outreach king who in one weekend would hopscotch from a Chinese banquet hall to a Sikh gurdwara to a Philippine picnic to a Coptic temple, collecting fistfuls of donations, volunteer signups and vote pledges along the way. Plainly, it’s not normal for the Conservatives to have a Jason Kenney, capable of politicking effectively in nearly every shard of Canada’s cultural mosaic and shake loose the Liberals’ traditional grip on new Canadians’ votes; it would likely take a team of outreach workers to accomplish what he did. Kenney has maintained and tended to his contact lists since shifting to Alberta, and retains at least some of his support base out there: members of Toronto’s Chinese community hosted a reception in his honour in March 2018, when Kenney came east to speak at the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership convention.

It took Kenney several years to hone his outreach methods and to persuade communities to abandon the Liberals in favour of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Now both of the leaders who wooed minorities in the 905, Harper and Kenney, are off the federal ballot, having alienated those communities in the last election with policies like the barbaric cultural practices” snitch line and bans on face-coverings at citizenship ceremonies. Scheer is an unknown commodity to many; a visiting Kenney would have to reassure voters that the new leader brings the sort of political chops and immigration system improvements they liked in 2008 and 2011, without the warts of 2015—and that Scheer is certainly not the kingpin of a motley band of racists and xenophobes that Trudeau’s Liberals contend they are. It’s no stretch to assume that if Kenney campaigns federally in Ontario, he’ll also hold fundraisers in Lower Mainland B.C. and the Montreal area—both parts of his old familiar ethnic campaign trail.

Kenney seems intent to make time-zone-hopping almost as regular an activity as premier as it was in his federal career, with his lecture and lobbying circuit in favour of Alberta oil and pipelines. On Friday, he was in Toronto to meet Mayor John Tory and speak to the C.D. Howe institute. The scoresheet, four weeks into Kenney’s premiership: two speeches in Hogtown, zero in his native Cowtown.

Will he be viewed now differently within communities he cultivated in years past? And perhaps more importantly, by voters who aren’t the target of his private fundraisers and events, and might be rankled by his fly-in work?

When he was a federal minister, it was much easier for Kenney to tell Ontarians and British Columbians that he was striving for the best results for all parts of Canada. Now, he’s premier of just one part, an Alberta-firster by design. He professes interest in bringing all Canadians the spin-off jobs and redistributed wealth from Alberta oil development, yet campaigned on a jarring proposal to rejig federal health and social transfers in a way that would substantially favour his province to the detriment of others.

Ontarians will reasonably be suspicious as to whether he has their best interests at heart. The extent to which climate change becomes a major issue in this election may influence how warmly the petro-province leader’s insertion into Ontario riding contests is received. If concerns about a warming planet and extreme weather are chief in voters’ minds, the amount of money and support Kenney raises in Brampton may be outweighed by the scorn his policies and carbon-tax opposition attracts in the rest of the province.

Some developments back in Alberta also make Kenney’s travels more of a dubious proposition. The RCMP continues to investigate alleged voter fraud perpetrated by Kenney’s 2017 campaign for the United Conservative Party leadership, and much of the scrutiny concerns Indo-Canadians in Calgary and Edmonton whose information may have been fraudulently used to obtain online voter identities. Should the investigation bear fruit—no charges have yet been laid—it would reveal the most cynical and craven version of ethnic politics in Canada, and a willingness by Kenney to embrace such dark moves. Why would a Sikh business group or a Polish Catholic Church welcome a politician who abuses his entrée into their community?

To be sure, Kenney and the federal Tories have left themselves an escape hatch: his camp says he won’t stump if it’s seen as a political liability, and the Conservatives are currently leading in the polls. But a party that can use help in a part of the country that tends to swing elections—and has no obvious candidate to provide it—Kenney’s walk down Memory Lane (that’s in Richmond Hill, right?) no doubt seems a gamble worth taking.

Source: Is unleashing Jason Kenney on Ontario a good idea for the Tories?

Kenney will campaign in Ontario during federal election as Tories look to win back immigrant voters

As noted, these ridings can flip back and forth (and Doug Ford’s PCs largely won the same 905 ridings that the Liberals had won back federally).

I have considerable discomfort with such a partisan role for provincial premiers in a federal election and vice-versa whatever the party.

It will nevertheless be interesting to see how effective this strategy works with one premier who knows the issues and related limits, and one who appears largely oblivious. And obviously, Kenney will be capitalizing on the close relations he developed with many of the communities he actively courted in the past.

And the obvious question is why premiers are campaigning when they should be governing:

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will campaign in Ontario during this fall’s general election in an effort to convince new Canadians living in suburban ridings that Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are a safe choice for their votes.

Mr. Kenney’s journey to the Ontario heartland is a remarkable intervention by a premier in a federal campaign, a move targeted at defeating Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.

Premiers have involved themselves in federal elections in the past. Danny Williams, when he was Progressive Conservative premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, waged an Anything But Conservative campaign against Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives during the 2008 election in a dispute over equalization formulas.

Liberal Kathleen Wynne, then-premier of Ontario, worked actively in 2015 to defeat Mr. Harper and to make Mr. Trudeau prime minister, going so far as to throw her party’s provincial machine into local fights to defeat both Conservative and New Democrat candidates.

But Mr. Kenney is taking a very different approach, according to a source close to the United Conservative Party Premier; The Globe and Mail granted them anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the Premier’s behalf. Mr. Kenney will be inserting himself into what is known as the 905: the large swath of seats outside Toronto, named after its area code, whose millions of voters often determine the outcome of federal elections.

In many of those ridings, immigrant Canadians make up a majority or a large minority of voters. As immigration minister in the Harper government from 2008 to 2013, Mr. Kenney worked tirelessly and successfully to convince immigrant voters, many of whom are socially and economically conservative in outlook, that the federal Conservative Party best reflected their values.

A swing by 905 voters away from the Liberals delivered a strong minority government for the Conservatives in the 2008 election and a majority in 2011. But many of those same voters abandoned Mr. Harper for Mr. Trudeau in 2015, helping to deliver a majority government for the Liberals.

In a statement to The Globe on Wednesday, Mr. Kenney reiterated his hope that the Liberals would modify their positions on pipeline approvals and carbon taxes. However, if the Liberals do not reverse these policies, he said, “I will openly and vocally campaign here in Alberta and wherever I can make a difference across Canada to elect a Conservative government that will stand up for Alberta and for Canada.

“As I said many times during the recent [provincial] election campaign, if the Trudeau government continues with the destructive policies that undermine Alberta’s vital economic interests and put Albertans out of work, the impact on our province will be disastrous,” he said. “If Trudeau’s policies don’t change, then the federal government needs to.”

The new Alberta Premier has many bones to pick with Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals. In the Throne Speech delivered by Lieutenant-Governor Lois Mitchell Wednesday, the new government vowed to immediately scrap the carbon tax enacted by the previous NDP government of Rachel Notley. The Liberals have imposed a federal tax on any province that does not put a price on carbon. The tax is one reason Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford will also be campaigning to unseat Liberals in the next general election.

Mr. Kenney is also incensed by Bill C-69, which would impose stricter environmental conditions on proposed infrastructure-projects, including new pipelines, and Bill C-48, which would ban tanker traffic along British Columbia’s north coast. Both bills have been passed by the House of Commons and are currently before the Senate.

The federal Liberals have accused the federal Conservatives of catering to nativist voters, pointing to a pro-pipeline rally that Mr. Scheer attended at which far-right-wing activist Faith Goldy was also present, along with “yellow vest” protesters, many of whom oppose Canada’s open-door immigration policies.

The Conservatives have fought back against these accusations. “There is no home in the Conservative Party of Canada for anti-immigrant or racist sentiment,” Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said earlier this month. “Anyone who harbours those beliefs does not have a political home in our movement.”

But Mr. Kenney’s appeal to immigrant voters may carry special weight. As immigration minister, he was indefatigable in his efforts to woo visible-minority voters, earning the nickname “minister for curry in a hurry.”

The source close to Mr. Kenney said the Premier will only campaign in Ontario if his participation is welcomed by the federal Conservatives. Some observers might speculate that looking to Mr. Ford and Mr. Kenney for help only illustrates the weakness of Mr. Scheer in the key battleground of Ontario.

But Mr. Kenney’s supporters will say that the more allies Mr. Scheer has during the campaign, the better.

At press time, Mr. Scheer’s office had not responded to a request for comment.

Liberal supporters will assert that having Mr. Kenney and Mr. Ford campaign in support of the federal Conservatives will strengthen Mr. Trudeau’s claim that only he can be counted on to fight global warming, which threatens the environment and human habitations.

But Conservatives at all levels believe that voters will join them in opposing carbon taxes as a tool to fight climate change. The outcome of the next election could hinge on which side suburban voters in Ontario choose.

Source: John Ibbitson writes

Kenney’s misdirection on candidate woes would make David Copperfield proud

Would have expected more from him given his past federal experience in community outreach and understanding of these kinds of sensitivities. Noteworthy change to the pre-election period:

I don’t know if United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney has ever thought of a job as a magician.

This week he displayed the kind of misdirection that would make David Copperfield proud.

When asked about the Islamophobic and homophobic posts from one of his candidates in Calgary, Kenney didn’t address the controversial posts. Instead, he praised the candidate, Eva Kiryakos in Calgary-South East, as “selfless” for voluntarily stepping done to avoid becoming a “distraction” for the party during the election campaign.

And he didn’t stop there. He tried to describe her as a victim: “Eva’s also from a minority community herself. She is from a Middle Eastern refugee family, from a community that has faced a history of genocide.” She can’t possibly be guilty of intolerance, he seemed to be saying, because she’s from a community that has been the victim of intolerance.

Kenney wasn’t the only one trying to make Kiryakos into the injured party. She was vigorously doing that herself when explaining why she resigned for the campaign.

“Someone outside of our party has been threatening to smear me, and I have had enough of the bullies and the threats,” she said in a statement. That’s why she quit.

She’s the victim of bullying and a smear campaign. Except that it might be more accurate to say she’s the victim of her own intolerant postings on social media that include, but are not limited to, this example: “Muslim forces continue to use murder, rape, kidnapping, terror and forced breeding in pursuit of Christian Genocide in the Middle East while the world turns a blind eye.”

And this post about gay-straight alliances in schools: “You’re not interested in protecting children with GSAs, you’re interested in converting them.” When Kiryakos stepped down she was angry, she was defiant and she painted herself as a defender of free speech: “I voiced my honest opinion.” But she was not repentant.

Welcome to the new normal in Alberta politics. Well, in UCP politics. It would appear that when UCP members find themselves brought down by their own controversial histories, they no longer apologize or explain. They defiantly point fingers at anonymous others, claim victimhood and try to change the channel.Probably because this is becoming such a familiar narrative from the UCP.

On the eve of the election last week, another candidate, Caylan Ford in Calgary-Mountain View quit because of her own witless postings about how she was “somewhat saddened by the demographic replacement of white peoples in their homelands.” She never apologized but Kenney did at least address the comments as “completely inexplicable” and said she made the right decision by resigning.“Let me be clear, I condemn the remarks included in the texts that she had sent,” said Kenney.

By the time Kiryakos’ comments came to light, though, Kenney apparently didn’t want to repeat the slander, so to speak, by directly addressing the postings. This is a different tack to what Kenney and the UCP have done the past year when faced with members who have a history of hateful or ridiculous postings on social media.

Last July, the UCP disqualified Todd Beasley, who was vying for the party’s nomination in Brooks-Medicine Hat, for Islamophobic tweets.

Later that month, Sandra Kim found herself in trouble in the nomination race in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin for social media posts critical of same-sex marriage. Then there were the three UCP nomination candidates for Edmonton-West Henday who found themselves in trouble in October for posing for photos with members of the anti-immigrant organization, Soldiers of Odin.

In several of these cases, the UCP issued condemnations.

In August, for example, the party denounced the social media postings of businessman Jerry Molnar who was contesting the nomination race in the riding of Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland. He had, among other things, called the now-former premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynn, who is openly gay, a “tranny.”

The party’s executive director, Janice Harrington, wrote Molnar a letter bluntly saying his posts would be used by the NDP to cause “serious reputational harm” to the UCP and its members.

“We would not let a candidate for the NDP off the hook for an offensive comment simply because it was said on his or her personal Facebook,” added Harrington.

Harrington, of course, was correct.

The NDP these days is happy to use the posts of Ford and Kiryakos to help cause serious reputational harm to the UCP.As a defence strategy the UCP is no longer condemning the posts or vilifying those doing the posting.

That’s because we’re in the middle of an election campaign where the NDP is trying to focus people’s attention on the social conservative background of UCP leader Kenney.

Last week, NDP leader Rachel Notley said, “I personally do not believe that Jason Kenney is racist, but I believe that the UCP as a party has a problem with racism.”

And this ongoing question from the NDP: why does the UCP seem to attract an inordinate number of people with extreme or bigoted views? And pointing out that even though Ford and Kiryakos are no longer candidates, they are still UCP members.

This is a deliberate strategy by the NDP to help recreate the conditions that led to the meltdown of the right-wing Wildrose party (one of the legacy parties of the UCP) in the final days of the 2012 campaign over racist and homophobic utterances from several candidates. The Wildrose committed political suicide by defending the culprits.

The big difference for Kenney this time around is that he has the miscreants tossed overboard quickly. But he’s doing it more and more gently, praising the latest as “selfless.” He doesn’t want to make a fuss and he’s hoping when they hit the water they won’t even make a ripple, never mind a splash.

Source: Kenney’s misdirection on candidate woes would make David Copperfield proud

Jason Kenney announces UCP immigration policy

Kenney does know the immigration file and focus on rural Alberta reflects ongoing concerns in rural communities across Canada and the focus on the Provincial Nominee Program makes sense.

One of the interesting apparent paradoxes is that rural Canadians tend to have more reservations about general immigration levels (particularly family and refugee class) and multiculturalism but yet recognize their demographic needs require more immigrants:

Kenney said the UCP plan would aim to bring approximately 10,000 newcomers in total to rural Alberta every year.

Kenney, who served as federal immigration minister from 2008 to 2013, said the plan is meant to address population decline in rural Alberta and reinvigorate the provincial economy.

It mirrors a recent move by the federal government aimed at placing more immigrants in rural communities across Canada.

While immigration is largely seen as a federal responsibility, it is shared between the provinces and Ottawa.

Each province and territory negotiates its own agreement, but that falls within a broader immigration policy set by the federal government.

Alberta immigration policy

In Alberta, there is both a comprehensive immigration agreement and an immigrant nominee program that allows the province to target would-be Albertans based on labour needs.

The federal government assigns a quota of approximately 5,000 positions for the Alberta nominee program.

Kenney says for each one of those positions, typically four people — family members of the nominee — settle in the province.

“I truly believe we have not been as proactive or energetic as we should be in this program,” said Kenney, as he outlined the UCP’s plan if it forms the next provincial government in an election that has not been called yet by Rachel Notley’s governing NDP.

Under Alberta legislation, the election must take place between March 1 and May 31, 2019, with a 28-day campaign.

Kenney’s plan calls for partnerships with rural communities, where referrals from those communities can help place immigrants into the provincial nomination process.

He estimates these changes could bring 8,000 newcomers to smaller communities each year.

Kenney says the plan is based on Manitoba’s system, where 20 per cent of newcomers now settle in rural areas.

Entrepreneur program could add 2,000 people to rural areas

The UCP would also create what it’s calling a rural entrepreneur stream.

It would set aside 500 position for immigration to the province for those who meet minimum income and investment thresholds and are willing to invest in businesses in rural communities.

Kenney says those immigrants would have to be active majority owners of those businesses.

He says the UCP estimates the entrepreneur program could mean an additional 2,000 people coming to rural communities each year.

That system is based on one in British Columbia.

Kenney said there are details that would have to be worked out before the immigration policy was established, based on what he said would be extensive consultations with immigrants, agencies, municipalities and more.

He also said Alberta under the UCP would push for a larger share of immigrants outside of the provincial policy.

“My goal would be to get a larger share of the federally selected immigrants by getting our economy back to work,” said Kenney.

Source: Jason Kenney announces UCP immigration policy

A tougher refugee border pact? America said no. Former Minister Kenney

Useful to hear former immigration minister Kenney’s comments and history of earlier discussions, although his reassurances of the safeguards in the US system, while generally correct, understate some of the significant differences between the Canadian and American approaches (even pre-Trump):

The sometimes tragic phenomenon of asylum-seekers crossing fields in Manitoba and ditches in Quebec has prompted many immigration experts and some politicians to call for changes to the Canada-U.S. pact that makes border hopping the only choice for people urgently seeking refuge. That is: stop shuttering our front doors, our border entry posts, to those desperate for safety and legal protection they want in Canada.

There are those on the other side of the status quo who wish for a way not only to keep the door shut, but to press down on the windows people are finding their way through. One of them is Jason Kenney, Canada’s former immigration minister.

In the face of pressure on the Liberal government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, Kenney has called on Ottawa to instead demand renegotiation with the U.S. to eliminate the de facto exemption which lets people making so-called “irregular” border crossings into Canada’s refugee determination system. Irregular crossing, in this case, means getting one’s feet on Canadian soil somewhere other than an established port of entry.

If it granted such a request, the Trump administration would take pressure off Canada’s asylum program in a way the Obama White House refused to do. Kenney told Maclean’s he made this pitch when he was minister; his counterpart in Washington said no.

“I approached then secretary of homeland security (Janet) Napolitano with a request to reopen the STCA for renegotiation to remove this and other exemptions,” he said in an interview Friday on the sidelines of the Manning Centre Conference. “They basically refused to do so, because I quite frankly think they cynically saw these exemptions as operating in favour of the United States. To put it bluntly, if people whom they regard as illegal aliens go to Canada, they don’t have to worry about them any more, or remove them.”

If the Obama administration was unwilling to change rules to keep asylum seekers on his side of the border, what chance is there the new U.S. government would? Among the administration’s policies is a recent order from John Kelly, the new Homeland Security secretary, which would deport undocumented immigrants to Mexico even if they hailed from other Central American countries—a signal this White House is unconcerned about immigration conventions or norms, as long as foreigners perceived as problematic are out of the country.

…His meeting with Napolitano came about while he was crafting new policies to overhaul refugee laws to deter questionable claimants. While he failed to enact a border crackdown, he did speed up the hearing process, create new options to detain asylum seekers and, controversially, limit their health benefits.

Still, refugee advocates in Canada continued their long-standing criticism of the safe third-country agreement, and have amped up their calls in the wake of Trump’s wide-ranging crackdowns on the immigration system, which included a suspension of refugee resettlement and beefed-up deportation and detention systems. These moves have prompted a spike in migrants crossing over to Canada, in hopes of a fair shake at becoming refugees here. Advocates argue that American bellicosity toward newcomers and refuge seekers puts lie to assertions the U.S. is a safe third country (though many of these critics opposed the border deal even before Trump entered politics).

Ministers in the Trudeau government have said they see no reason to abandon the agreement. Their position has gotten new support from the UN High Commission for Refugees. Jean-Nicolas Beuze, its new representative in Canada, told Maclean’s that the asylum conditions in the U.S. and Canada today are not sufficiently different from 2004, when the safe country pact was established, to warrant a change to the agreement. Having spoken recently to dozens of refugee claimants who entered Canada near the border post at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., Beuze said their “perception” of the Trump actions and rhetoric are prompting their escape north. But the agency, he said, will continue monitoring the situation.

Kenney said there’s no reason refuge-seekers currently in the U.S. should not seek asylum in that country, arguing that “hysteria” has driven the recent trend. “The United States has one of the world’s strongest, fairest asylum systems. It’s not administered by Donald Trump. It’s administered by the independent American judiciary and tribunals,” he said.

There are, in fact, substantial differences between how U.S. and Canada treat refugee claimants, some of them predating Trump. In the U.S., detention is vastly more common; in Canada, claimants have easier access to legal aid for refugee status hearings. Canada has an interim health-care program and gives readier access to work permits, among other benefits. The sharpest emerging contrast, however, is that of image: Trump has boasted of walls and ejections, and has particularly stigmatized Muslims (especially from certain countries) as potential terrorists. Trudeau has highlighted Canada’s openness, both through the Syrian refugee resettlement program and a globally rebroadcast tweet declaring welcome to those fleeing persecution, “regardless of your faith.”

The vast majority of border-hopping refugee claimants have been Muslims from Somalia, Syria, Yemen (all countries targeted by Trump’s now-suspended travel ban), as well as Turkey, Ghana, Djibouti and other countries.

Kenney said the Liberal government should bid to renegotiate the agreement as he previously tried to, as its current limitation “almost incentivizes these irregular crossings.” A sharp increase in the flow would massively burden our system “and blow a hole in the integrity of our immigration system,” he says—particularly if illegal immigrants fearing Trump-ordered deportations start joining the overseas migrants. “I think we need to be soft-hearted but hard-headed about this,” Kenney said.

“This is why I think it’s unhelpful for leaders like Prime Minister Trudeau to muddy the waters with what sounds like an open invitation for foreign nationals of the United States to come north,” Kenney went on. “We have immigration laws for a reason, so we can have an ordered, fair, compassionate, law-based system.  It really doesn’t help if you create the implication that Canada has open borders. We don’t, in our law.”

Source: A tougher refugee border pact? America said no. – Macleans.ca

Donald Trump could happen in Canada. It’s already begun. – Macleans.ca

Some good analysis and questions regarding the resilience of Canadian politics to Trump-style politics, focussing on the ugliness in the Alberta PC leadership campaign and the Leitch/Blaney campaign approaches.

Starting with Charlie Gillis:

The question, say experts, is whether support for such ideas could galvanize into a Trump-style movement. Ice-breakers like Blaney and Leitch are exploiting the same rural-urban cultural divide that Trump did in the U.S., acknowledges Clark Banack, a Brock University political scientist who studies populist movements. But the kind of anti-elitist discontent that moves votes is seldom seen in Canada outside the West, Banack notes, and when it arises elsewhere, it tends to be short-lived. “We have sporadic examples of people emerging for a short time around a specific issue,” he says, citing Rob Ford’s rise to the Toronto mayoralty on the strength of working-class, suburban anger. “But overall, Canadian political culture is less susceptible to populism than American political culture.”

Another mitigating factor: the relative absence in Canada of a dispossessed working class in a mood to punish its leaders. David Green, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics, believes Trump’s support base of white men with no college degree would be hard to replicate in this country because the commodities boom sustained Canada’s blue-collar workers, even as the financial crisis crushed the dreams of their counterparts in other countries. Between 2003 and 2015, he notes in a forthcoming paper, mean hourly wages for Americans with a high school education or less fell by six per cent; for the same demographic in Canada, they climbed eight per cent. The effect, he says, was to slow the growth of the economic gap that has fed voter rage in the U.S., the U.K. and parts of Europe. Last year, our top 10 per cent of earners made 8.6 times on average what the bottom 10 per cent pulled in—a ratio that, while high, falls beneath the OECD average and far below the U.S. ratio of 19 to one.

But all that could change, Green warns, if oil prices remain low—especially if the housing market weakens at the same time. The country’s residential construction boom, he notes, has maintained job centres around the country’s large cities, putting more than a few displaced oil patch employees to work. “What do you do with that set of less-than-university-educated guys—the demographic that switched over to Trump?” Green asks. “That’s a potentially worrying connection.”

More so, agrees Banack, if you have a high-minded central government that overlooks their misfortune while pursuing its own pre-occupations. Running against Ottawa, he notes, is a time-tested stratagem for populist movements in Canada, and these days, few national governments are more closely identified with the globalist program of trade, labour mobility and climate-change action than Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Something like Trudeau’s promised national carbon tax, which will be felt keenly in the West, could be enough to trigger a populist insurgency in Alberta, he says, though it’s safe to assume the federal Conservative party would do everything it could to stop such a movement, given the outcome of the Reform party experiment: “Another vote split, and you could forget about a Conservative federal government for another 10 or 15 years.”

Maybe, but experienced political players are no longer sure economic logic and conventional political calculus are in force. Carter, the Alberta strategist, notes that the online communities where so-called “alt-right” voters congregate—Facebook groups, or conspiracy-fuelled sites like Infowars—don’t traffic in that sort of information. In its place: a strain of fanaticism typified by the onslaught that ran Jansen off the PC stage, which Carter believes is sure to spread. “I don’t know if it’s Trump or social media or just belief that they’re correct that gives a sense of permission,” he says. “But this is not normal.”

Gary Mason in the Globe picks up similar themes:

The Premier and her party are now sitting at 14 per cent in the polls. The party receiving the most support in recent public opinion surveys is the Progressive Conservatives, the same entity Mr. Kenney plans to destroy if he wins the leadership. He wants to build a new political organization that Wildrose members will feel comfortable joining as part of an overarching bid to unify conservative forces in the province.

Either way, Alberta seems to be preparing to make an ideological course correction.

There’s little doubt the rise of Donald Trump has emboldened many in the province. One of those would appear to be Derek Fildebrandt, a Wildrose MLA and one of the most powerful conservative voices in Alberta.

He has little patience for the likes of Ms. Jansen and others complaining about online trolls and provocateurs. “Hypersensitive, politically correct, victim-as-virtue culture is creating a leadership class of wimps,” he wrote in a tweet that could have been sent out by The Donald himself. “People are sick of it.”

After Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Fildebrandt tweeted: “The biggest lesson that we should learn from the election of Trump: smug, condescending political correctness will spark a backlash.”

I’m not sure what is happening in Alberta, but on almost any level it’s not good. Trump-style politics could well be making its way north of the border. At the end of the day, however, society gets the politicians it deserves.

Source: Not so progressive: Trump-style politics seep into Alberta

Jason Kenney on life after Ottawa and uniting Alberta’s right [comments on ethnic vote and Leitch]

Worth noting:

Q: Within the Conservative party, you were known as someone who connected with multicultural voters. But most recently, support for the party has melted away in those communities. What do you think is going on there?

A: I would challenge that assertion: it has not melted away. When we started this project in the 2004 election, the Conservative party was at just over 20 per cent of support of new Canadians, and by the 2011 election we were at about 42 per cent—a higher share of the vote than of native-born Canadians. We are the only centre-right party in the world of whom that is true. But I never had the hubris to imagine that we would have a kind of permanent lock on the plurality of that share of Canadian electors. I think what we’ve done through our hard work in cultural communities is to create a competitive political environment. No longer can any party, such as the Liberals, take for granted the support of new Canadians or cultural communities, as though they are some kind of a passive vote-bank.

Q: With the federal Conservative leadership race, you’ve made a few critical comments about Kellie Leitch’s immigrant-values test proposal. What’s your take on the screening people have to go through?

A: I have an enormous amount of experience in this area as multiculturalism minister for 10 years, then being minister of immigration responsible for screening and selection, and minister of citizenship. I find her approach to be disingenuous. I don’t think she’s ever thought deeply about these questions. She never raised these questions in Parliament, in public, in caucus or in cabinet. She seemed only to latch on to this as a theme after her campaign was circulating some questions on an online poll that was probably designed to generate email addresses. I just find the whole approach a bit slapdash. What concerns me is that these are extraordinarily sensitive questions that must be addressed with a great deal of nuance and prudence. Having said that, I do believe there is absolutely space for legitimate debate in a liberal democracy about immigration selection, screening and integration.

Q: You previously spent a lot of your time touring and campaigning with multicultural groups, and now you’re visiting smaller, rural areas in Alberta that must be a lot more homogeneous. What are you taking from those communities and hearing from people?

A: Rural Alberta is a lot less homogeneous than it used to be, partly because of my immigration policies. You go to a lot of small communities in rural Alberta and you’ll find a degree of diversity that probably hasn’t existed in terms of immigration for a century—you’ll find the Filipino grocery store, and the African Pentecostal church and maybe a mosque. Albertans are pro-immigration; they’re also pro-integration. In my years in this province I cannot recall more than a handful of expressions of xenophobia or nativism that I’ve encountered. It’s the land of new beginnings and fresh starts—it is rare Albertans who trace their roots here back more than a generation or two. It’s extraordinarily welcoming.

Source: Jason Kenney on life after Ottawa and uniting Alberta’s right – Macleans.ca

For the full, non-edited, comments on Kellie Leitch, see

Jason Kenney on Kellie Leitch’s values test

Jason Kenney: ‘I still wonder how I got here’ – remarks on Canada

In addition to the obligatory thanks to all, and his plea for civility and thoughtful deliberations, Kenney’s remarks on Canada worth noting, and consistent with his time in office:

As a last word about this country, which we all serve—this magnificent country with limitless potential—as I worked as minister of immigration, citizenship, and multiculturalism and welcomed refugees to this country, I was reminded of the words of Desmond Morton, a great Canadian historian and a former NDP candidate. He said that Canada is made up of people who have been on the wrong side of history. That includes our first nations at the time of European contact.

That also includes French Canadians at the time of the conquest and Acadians, with the great upheaval and the tragedy of what happened to them.

It includes the United Empire Loyalists; English Canada was founded by refugees, including some of my ancestors, who came here from the American Revolution. It includes those who saw Canada as the North Star through the Underground Railroad, who escaped slavery in the United States to achieve freedom in this country, sometimes with the scars of slavery on their backs. There were the Highland clearance Scots, who founded Cape Breton. There were the famine Irish, including some of my ancestors—and members can see that the Kenneys have recovered from the famine. There were Jewish victims of the pogroms before the Second World War, in the early 20th century, and the victims of the Shoah, who came after the Second World War. There were the eastern Europeans, the men in sheepskin coats who fled political oppression to pursue new opportunities in settling the Canadian Prairies; the Hungarians of 1958; the Czechs of 1968; and the Vietnamese of 1979. With the Chinese premier here today, we should also remember the Uyghurs and Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners and those who stood at Tiananmen Square. There are so many others right to this day: the Syrian refugees whom we welcome; the 25,000 Iraqi refugees who came through a program that I established; the gay Iranians and men and women of all backgrounds. All of them in their own way were losers of history, yet by becoming Canadian they have become winners of history.

All of those people would have cause to live in a spirit of bitterness and recrimination but, instead, have decided not to forget their tragic past, to remember and memorialize it but move forward with hope in the future, as Canadians with a common sense of responsibility for one another.

I close my two decades in this place by quoting the words of former prime minister Diefenbaker, when he introduced the Canadian Bill of Rights. In expressing a sentiment that applies to all of those losers of history who have built one of the greatest countries of history, he stated:

“I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”

Jason Kenney dismisses Kellie Leitch’s immigrant-screening proposal, Candice Malcolm former Kenney staffer endorses Leitch’s proposal

Sharp contrast between former CIC Minister Kenney and one of his former staffers, Candice Malcolm. Starting with Kenney:

Federal Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch hasn’t thought through her controversial position on screening immigrants for “anti-Canadian values,” former Tory immigration minister Jason Kenney says.

Following a speech in downtown Calgary on Friday, Mr. Kenney, who is seeking the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership, said he believes Dr. Leitch is pursuing an “improvised position” without understanding the negative impact of her words.

“I don’t take her position seriously. She’s never articulated it before,” Mr. Kenney said.

 “She’s never said a word about this in Parliament, caucus or cabinet. I don’t think she understands the nuance around these issues. You have to be very careful in the way you articulate questions about integration.”

Dr. Leitch, a Conservative MP from Ontario, e-mailed a survey last week to supporters that included a question about whether the federal government should screen potential immigrants and refugees for “anti-Canadian values.”

She later said she is protecting Canadian values from people who believe that women are property and can be beaten or that gays and lesbians should be stoned.

Despite widespread criticism including unflattering comparisons to U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, Dr. Leitch has defended her position that screening is needed without saying how immigration officials would actually vet new Canadians.

Source: Jason Kenney dismisses Kellie Leitch’s immigrant-screening proposal – The Globe and Mail

And Malcolm’s defence of Leitch:

To most Canadians, this is a perfectly reasonable suggestion. In fact, back in 2011 the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation commissioned a report through Dalhousie University that asked very similar questions.

In that survey, 97% of Canadians agreed that values such as “gender equality”and “tolerance of others” must be embraced by newcomers. Likewise, 96% of immigrant Canadians agreed with embracing Canadian values.

According to a Globe and Mail report at the time,the survey demonstrated “a solid consensus around the notion that immigrants should accept certain values as a precondition for joining Canadian society.”

A “pre-condition” – meaning potential immigrants should accept these values before coming to Canada.

The survey also found that nine in 10 Canadians believed that Canadian laws should take precedence over religious laws and that newcomers should learn about Canada’s history and culture. Eight in 10 Canadians supported the idea that immigrants should “raise their children as Canadians.”

The overwhelmingly majority of Canadians believed that newcomers should accept our values. And the media hardly raised an eyebrow.

That was then, and this is now.

Five years ago, we all agreed that Canadian values were cherished and worth protecting. We were confident in ourselves and proud of our country. We celebrated our Canadian values, and weren’t afraid to promote our way of life to newcomers. But things have changed.

In 2016, any suggestion that our values are important leads to name-calling and hysteria. Leitch has received a fury of condemnation from media elites, Liberals and even many of her fellow Conservative caucus members.

They’ve accused her of “xenophobia,” “racism,”“dog-whistle politics,” and compared her to Donald Trump. The comparison is silly.

Trump has been successful in the U.S. for lashing out at the establishment, brazenly opposing political correctness and making shocking comments about various minority groups. He irresponsibly called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., categorized Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and initially failed to denounce a former KKK leader.

Trump has built his candidacy around emotional appeals to American greatness,while not-so-subtly winking at racists and white supremacists.

Leitch, by stark contrast, made a simple suggestion about standing up for Canadian values, and followed up with a thoughtful explanation.

But elites in Canada are paranoid. The rise of Trump in the U.S, alongside the resurgence of nationalism and anti-immigration parties in Europe, has made many nervous. Wary of a similar movement in Canada, many are determined to nip discussions of integration and immigration reform in the bud before they grow.

This shows a lack of confidence in Canadian commonsense. Not every conservative is aDonald Trump in waiting. Not every proposal surrounding immigrant and integration is tantamount to Trumpian racism.

Kellie Leitch is no Donald Trump