Friday, April 11, 2008

Why let the facts get in the way of a good talking point?

Jason Kenney, my old MP, is in the news today for old comments of his, caught on tape:

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:

Liberals 22
Alliance 14

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)



  • Your link doesn't open for me. But this article from the Toronto Star in 2000 shows the numbers you give for vizmin candidates in 2000 (22 vs 14) is wrong.

    "Alliance party defends record on minorities --- Ethnic candidates near match to Liberals' numbers

    Valerie Lawton
    711 words
    6 November 2000
    The Toronto Star
    Copyright (c) 2000 The Toronto Star

    OTTAWA - The Canadian Alliance, like the Reform party before it, has been dogged by an image of a political movement with little interest in ethnic diversity.

    Liberal Leader Jean Chretien last week charged that an Alliance government would eventually destroy the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which, he said, protects "people of different languages, different religions, different colour."

    When asked if he thought an Alliance government would treat Canada's ethnic minorities equally as citizens, Chretien said, "I don't know. But I know they are under us."

    But what, if anything, does the slate of visible minority Alliance candidates say about the reputation?

    Fact: The number of visible minority candidates running for the Alliance and for the Liberals is roughly equal.

    The Alliance expects to have at least 24 visible minority candidates when nominations in Canada's 301 ridings close today. As of Friday, the party had 20 nominated.

    The Liberals figure they'll have about 25.

    The New Democrats, meanwhile, had 23 visible minority candidates nominated as of Friday. Six of 75 Bloc Quebecois candidates are people from what the party terms "cultural communities."

    It's not possible to judge the Tories - the party isn't tracking the ethnic background of its candidates.

    "We don't think it's necessary. We don't do racial profiles. Candidates come to us and we treat them all the same way and equally," said Tory party spokesperson Marie-Chantale Lepine.

    Ethnic diversity has long been a sensitive issue for the Alliance and the Reform party because of a couple of political bloopers on the race issue.

    Former B.C. Reform MP Bob Ringma sparked a storm of protest when he suggested in 1996 that he wouldn't hesitate to move a black or homosexual employee to the back of the shop if a customer complained or refused to be served by that person.

    The Canadian Alliance has been working hard over the last few years to attract ethnic members and candidates.

    "There was an image of the Reform party that this party is not open to the multicultural communities, new immigrants, and our opponents called us a racist party," said Zubair Choudhry, the party's national "bridge-building" co-chair.

    He said a strategy to diffuse the criticism boosted his party's visible minority membership to more than 20,000 of its 250,000 members. As well, the party worked to ensure the roster of Greater Toronto Area candidates reflects the region's diverse population, he said.

    "That shows the commitment of the party that this party is not just a redneck, extreme right-wing party which doesn't include the immigrant communities or the visible minorities."

    Choudhry, a Mississauga accountant and immigrant from Pakistan, said Chretien has been using "scare tactics" that are simply unfair.

    He said the Liberal party portrays itself as a champion of diversity and yet its record in multicultural Ontario is abysmal. The Liberals have just three non-white candidates across the province - Jean Augustine (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), Ovid Jackson (Bruce-Grey), and Gurbax Singh Malhi (Bramalea-Gore-Malton).

    The Alliance is running more than 10 visible minority candidates from Toronto alone, said Choudhry.

    A Liberal official suggested that the real issue is not how many ethnic candidates each party has.

    "We believe we have a slate of candidates that reflects a good cross-section of Canadian society," said Duncan Fulton. "We also believe, however, that we're not going to focus on numbers versus numbers with other parties.

    "We're going to focus on policy against policy. The Alliance party has an unacceptably weak policy on multiculturalism."

    Most parties have programs aimed at attracting a diverse list of candidates. The NDP tries to recruit what it calls "equity-seeking groups" - visible minorities, women, young people and gays and lesbians. It has a minority recruiter and offers financial aid for would-be minority candidates.

    The Bloc Quebecois, meanwhile, doubled its number of "cultural community" representatives to six from three in the 1997 election. (The party's definition may include people who wouldn't fit the traditional definition of a visible minority, for example, someone of Spanish origin.)"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:47 p.m.  

  • It's relevant when it comes to Conservatives because those ideas are still present in the party grass roots today. Have a look at The Politic (search for all turban related posts).

    That's why I thought it was shameful for Dion to not oppose the Conservative immigration bill and instead duck and weave.

    Dion has let Harper have a majority government. If the Liberals don't stand up for the immigrants, who will?

    By Blogger mezba, at 7:48 p.m.  

  • The link doesn't work, but I was a candidate in 2000 and we did the count then, the Alliance had more visible minorities than the Liberals.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:30 p.m.  

  • Ah, the urge to shoot the messenger rather than evaluate his/her message. I say that Kenney had a very accurate view of how things would play out. Ask the Western Standzrd, MacLeans, etc., how accurate Kenney was.

    Ah, but you are "liberals". I forgot.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:46 p.m.  

  • Jason Kenney, Canada's own Little Lord Fauntleroy, is a fumblebum, self-righteous toady whose history bespeaks everything that is today's Conservative. A pretense at equanimity of spirit is however the a bald face lie confirmed again and again throughout that party's western contingent.
    Jason is only the tip of the iceberg.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:28 p.m.  

  • "I say that Kenney had a very accurate view of how things would play out. Ask the Western Standzrd, MacLeans, etc., how accurate Kenney was."

    Sikh muslim. Most people know there is a difference. Ah, but you are "conservative". I forgot.

    By Blogger Koby, at 5:44 a.m.  

  • I remain, as I was when this tape first came up, astounded that the entire party apparatus seemed more concerned about uppity Sikhs than the Heritage Front.

    By Blogger C4SR, at 8:24 a.m.  

  • To be fair to Kenney - he said it was eight year old material FROM FRANK MAGAZINE in QP. Check Hansard

    The reporter you link to seems to have edited that part of the quote out - guess he doesn't want his bosses and readers to know that he re-writes old Frank stories

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:49 a.m.  

  • Kenney needs to dig up former Liberal MP George Baker's rant against Sikhs being allowed to wear turbans in the RCMP. Baker made the comments in the House during Member's Statements, so it should be easy to find.
    Then again, that would require the Conservatives to be professional and to have all the offensive things Liberals have said on hand to throw back in their faces, and that is something no one in the Tory machine is able to do.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 7:21 p.m.  

  • "George Baker"

    Well on the subject of former MPs we should also bring up things Bob Ringma, Ted White, Reed Elley, Larry Spencer, Grant Hill, Sharon Hayes, Dave Chatters, Jake Hoeppner, Paul Forseth, the list goes on said during their time in office.

    “Then again, that would require the Conservatives to be professional and to have all the offensive things Liberals have said on hand to throw back in their faces, and that is something no one in the Tory machine is able to do.”

    Do not be naïve. Of course the Conservative have a record of what past and current Liberal have said. The only problem is that if they were to start going tic for tact they would fair rather badly. They would end up with a whole lot of Wappel, Paul Steckle, quotes and not much else. To make matters worse, those two are not even running again.

    By Blogger Koby, at 8:42 p.m.  

  • "...and to have all the offensive things Liberals have said on hand to throw back in their faces..."

    Let's not forget the nonsense uttered by the NDP.

    David Oliver says thank you for the apology and payment.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:01 p.m.  

  • "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."

    I have the same reaction when ever I see "Liberal Party of Canada" and "Honest Government or "Liberal Party of Canada" and "Landing fees are NOT a hidden head tax" or "Liberal Party of Canada" and "progressive policies".

    Lots of giggles & guffaws.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:34 a.m.  

  • "I have the same reaction when ever I see "Liberal Party of Canada" and "Honest Government"

    At least, we never embarrassed ourselves by taking cash in hotel rooms and hiding it in safe deposit boxes.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 7:14 p.m.  

  • bunch of name calling here.

    not much substance.

    Liberals are on the outs and resorting to mud slinging "old quotes", and numbers.

    Where are the Liberal's policies?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:15 p.m.  

  • fred: "Liberal Party of Canada" and "Landing fees are NOT a hidden head tax"

    I dunno. When I google that, nothing comes up. Which is weird, because I'd at least hope that this blog would come up.

    C'mon, you have to admit Kenney is a weird choice for multiculturalism. There are a lot of weird choices in the Liberal shadow Cabinet too mind you...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:35 p.m.  

  • What's funny is that after Hedy Fry's stint the worst Jason Kenney can ever be is the 2nd most ridiculous minister in that post.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 5:34 p.m.  

  • C'mon, you have to admit Kenney is a weird choice for multiculturalism.

    Because he's white, or is there some other reason?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:55 p.m.  

  • multiculturalism is just something trudeau left us to prevent racial mixing, and for racists of all visible minorities to get stuck on.

    FWIW though, our official languages are still languages of colonialists. Yes, French and English are not multicultural languages but the two common languages of the two nations who conquered the Indians, and then tried to civilized them by collaborating with Christians to put them through hell in residential schools.

    Hence the current problems within the native community (drug abuse especially alcohol) are directly related to colonialism, and are due to white racism overall.

    Thus, multiculturalism is not about racial harmony, but about ensuring that each visible minority does not cross the color line.

    And thus Canada is like a giant with feet made of clay mixed with gravel.

    Hence Sikhs and other visible minorities practising reverse racism, mainly to counteract white racism.

    By Blogger Sageb1, at 5:53 a.m.  

  • Thank you for this post, really worthwhile data.

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