Why let the facts get in the way of a good talking point?
In the eight-year-old audio recording, Calgary MP and Secretary of State for multiculturalism and Canadian Identity Jason Kenney says "overheated Sikhs" will use "the race card" to win arguments. Kenney did not know those remarks were being recorded.
"I did use those remarks in a particular context and I don't think they were appropriate. I expressed regret at the time, I do so again," Kenney said in a response to a Liberal MP's question about the comments.
This story is fun for a lot of reasons. And not just because whenever I see "Jason Kenney" and "secretary of state for multiculturalism" together, I can't help but giggle. What I love most about this is Kenney's line of defense. First, I'd love to know the "particular context" he's referring too and I'd also be curious who he expressed regret to at the time - because, while I haven't heard this tape, I doubt it goes something like:
"How do we know that and how do we know that this isn't overheated Sikhs using the race card, which they so often do when their credentials are being questioned?...oh my God, I can't believe I just said that. I'm so sorry and a truly apologize for offending anyone."
But the fun really begins when Kenney tries to hype up his record:
In the House Friday, Kenney tried to turn the tables on the Liberals.
"I would point out, for instance that this comment refers to the 2000 election campaign which I co-chaired and I am very proud of the fact that campaign had more visible minority candidates, more candidates of South Asian origin, indeed more Sikh candidates than did the Liberal party," Kenney said.
Snap! Now THAT is a great comeback, which will silence the critics. The only thing I can think of which would make that comeback any better would be if it were true.
A quick google search finds this table (scroll down to page 26 - if that link doesn't work, try this one), which details the number of visible minority candidates each of the parties ran in 2000:
Now, 14 is more than the 9 the Reform Party had in 1997 or the 1 they had in 1993. But it's still less than 22. Also, for what it's worth, the Liberals elected 55% of their visible minority candidates compared to 36% for the Alliance. And Liberal candidates ran in ridings the Liberals lost by an average of 8% of the vote in 1997, versus Alliance candidates running in ridings they'd lost by an average of 26% of the vote in 1997.
All of this surprises me, because Jason is usually very good with his facts. For example, when he told Libby Davies that gay people could marry in Canada...they just had to marry people of the opposite sex, his facts were correct. Now, Jason may be right about Sikh and South Asian candidates - I didn't check those numbers but maybe people whose job it is to look up stuff like that might want to do that.
The other line of defense used by Kenney is just as good:
In the House, Kenney appeared to criticize those who would do that, saying he thought it was "unfortunate" that the media was reporting "eight-year-old material" and that the official Opposition was resorting to using it in question period.
Hmm...I think this calls for a delightfully ironic question period exchange, don't you? And, just so I won't get accused of dredging up 8 year old quotes to prove my point, I'd like to point out that these are the words spoken by the MP from Calgary Southeast 8 days ago:
Hon. Gurbax Malhi (Bramalea—Gore—Malton, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the chair of the justice committee is the same person who, while immigration critic, blamed newcomers in Toronto for increasing crime rates. He said, “Do you notice that in Toronto there has been increased crime from certain groups, like Jamaicans?”
Is it not true that the Conservative opinion of immigrants has not changed in 20 years and that their proposed immigration reforms prove it?
Hon. Jason Kenney (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), CPC): Mr. Speaker, I find very curious these questions coming from members of a party whose predecessors introduced the Asian Exclusion Act, the continuous journey policy, the internment of Japanese Canadians, not to mention the War Measures Act.
If it's "unfortunate" that the official opposition is using eight year old material in Question Period, what adjective do you think would describe an individual using 85 year old material in Question Period? (answer: pathetic)
Labels: Jason Kenney