Jason Kenney hardly looks dangerous. He jokes about dropping a few pounds and there’s a cherubic quality to him. On stage at a Canada Immigration Centre in Etobicoke, he throws himself into a speech, bobbing on his toes for emphasis.
It’s a big crowd for a Sunday afternoon in February. Some 400 people, from China, India and the Philippines (among other nations), are jammed into a small auditorium to hear the immigration minister laud his government’s record. The mood is festive; everyone crowds in for photos. Shouting above the din, William Yue leans over to say: “Nice man. He’s a very nice man.”
When I read the "among other nations" part, placed in parentheses no less, I laughed. What other nations could there be aside from India, China, and the Philippines, three countries over represented in the immigration system? It seems that all the journalist could see were immigrants from either of those three countries and had to assume other nations were represented because they had to have been, right? Or is Canada being unreasonably flooded with immigrants from India, China, and the Philippines at the expense of everywhere else?
If Prime Minister Stephen Harper wins his majority in the next election, he owes a debt to Kenney. The MP for Calgary Southeast has become a fixture at dragon boat races, Ukrainian folk dances, Macedonian dinners and Diwali celebrations. He pops up everywhere, tweeting as he goes and earning the nickname (courtesy of erstwhile colleague Rahim Jaffer) “the minister for curry in a hurry.”
His role is to get new Canadians — whom he believes are already Conservative-minded — “tuned into our frequency.” And there are more than anecdotal signs his strategy is working. In one study, McGill University political scientist Elisabeth Gidengil and four colleagues showed an erosion of visible minority support for the Liberals began after the 2000 election. “In fact, minority voters were almost as likely to vote Conservative in 2008 as they were Liberal,” says the study, “The Anatomy of a Liberal Defeat.”
These days, Kenney, 42, practically bunks in the GTA, where Conservatives hope to pick up crucial seats. Liberal Andrew Kania squeaked through in Brampton West by only 231 votes in 2008, while Ruby Dhalla took Brampton-Springdale by 773. Conservatives conclude Liberal ridings won by two or three thousand votes may be winnable, and figure there’s a shot at knocking off Paul Szabo in Mississauga South, Ken Dryden in York-Centre and Joe Volpe in Eglinton-Lawrence.
A Conservative campaign insider suggests the gold standard is the 1995 sweep of the 905 by former Conservative premier Mike Harris. Half of the 82 ridings he took were in the GTA. They study the belt of former Harris seats that ring pre-amalgamation Toronto — in Scarborough, Willowdale and Etobicoke — and dream about the federal tide turning blue again. They see portents in some of Mayor Rob Ford’s geographic breakthroughs.
Jason Kenney is the most recognizable face of the Conservative party in Toronto next to Stephen Harper. He is also the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. Toronto is 50% immigrant and 50% "minority-majority". Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area are represented by 45 federal seats in the House of Commons out of 308 seats with more seats to come in the future due to immigrant driven population growth. Do the math.
Despite that loyalty he is tagged by political insiders as the front-runner to replace Harper. Super-ambitious, goes the gossip, willing to sell his mother for the job. Kenney deflects the question. “I’m completely absorbed in my current responsibilities,” he says, adding: “He (Harper) has my full support as long as he continues to serve as our leader.”
So there you have it. I have heard about Jason Kenney's rumoured ambitions to become Prime Minister during an appearance on the Michael Coren show (who, despite his pretensions to being a hard hitting and investigative journalist was anything but to Mr. Kenney). I think the rumours are true.
That being the case why would Jason Kenney make himself vulnerable to attacks of being anti-immigrant by doing what is right for the nation and cut immigration targets like every other immigrant receiving country in the world has the current sense to do? This could jeopardize his chances at leading the Conservative party and thus become Prime Minister of Canada. Not challenging the Singh decision and allowing over half a million foreigners into the country, including a record number of permanent residents, during a deep recession, with not hint at changing course has everything to do with Jason Kenney's political ambitions and little to do with the welfare of the nation. It seems his mother isn't the only thing he's willing to sell out to "get the job".
What this is more indicative of, and worrisome, is how powerful an influence non-Canadians have in shaping Canada's immigration system and demographic future. This is just as threatening to Canada's sovereignty as any border deal is with the U.S. because it politically undermines our ability to enforce our borders against a foreign intrusion due to the domestic presence of a foreign born lobby group.
Though Canadians are increasingly becoming uncomfortable with immigration now that they are starting to wake up to its consequences (I hope), it's the status-quo with all of Canada's governing parties. With elitist contempt they ignore the concerns of those they allegedly represent choosing instead to indoctrinate the electoral rabble on the dubious benefits of mass-immigration and its discredited partner in crime, multiculturalism. This, while pandering to kingmaker immigrant and ethnic block votes in the nation's cities. Politically this is the best strategy if a party wishes to form a majority government. This is why there is little differences among each party's immigration platforms leaving no democratic option for those of us who seek an opposing alternative. For us there are vague hate crime laws, Orwellian named human rights commissions, punitive fines, and jail terms if need be because you cannot have the kind of society that Canada is maddeningly pursuing without some form of autocracy, policing, and restrictions on our freedoms.
At the end of the day it's not about nation building at all. It's about forming the next government no matter what is at stake.