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

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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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