By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 24, 2012 - 0 Comments
Liberal MP John McKay will vote in favour of Stephen Woodworth’s motion. (Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae has condemned the motion, but has declined to whip the vote. Jeff Jedras has suggested there is a contradiction here.)
Meanwhile, on the government side, Jason Kenney says he will support the motion.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
The cabinet is apparently divided over how to deal with China.
CNOOC Ltd.’s groundbreaking $15.1-billion deal for Calgary’s Nexen has revealed a continuing fault line in the Conservative caucus, pitting the more ideologically driven members who distrust the undemocratic regime in Beijing against their colleagues who want to expand trade and investment ties with the fast-growing Asian powerhouse.
The split has even surfaced in cabinet, according to several sources close to the government. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who has made it a personal priority to build commercial relations with China, has spoken in favour of judging the CNOOC deal on its merits rather than allowing broader political differences to derail it. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney – with his anti-communist roots and promotion for religious freedom – voiced his concerns that China is not a trustworthy economic partner.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 3:29 PM - 0 Comments
While announcing his department’s crackdown on immigration fraud, Jason Kenney was asked about the government’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran and whether would be any impact on Canadians who need consular services or Iranians who might be hoping to immigrate.
Well, first of all, I should say that we closed our immigration bureau in Tehran a few months ago frankly I can say now in anticipation of this decision with respect to the embassy and we continue to provide visas, visa services for Iranian nationals seeking to visit Canada out of our Ankara office in Turkey and we’re exploring the possibility of establishing what is called a visa application centre which is – which would be like a contact presence in Tehran which some other governments have.
So Iranian nationals will be able to continue to apply to immigrate to Canada or to visit Canada and we will continue to welcome them if they are admissible. I should point out however that we are being very rigorous in applying this, the screen on admissibility for Iranian nationals seeking to immigrate to Canada. Many in the Persian community in Canada have been concerned that people who have been close to or members of the regime and their relatives, they believe have in too many cases been able to establish residency in Canada and we want to ensure that people who may be inadmissible, that is to say those who perhaps are associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Al-Qud’s Force, the Basij or senior members of the regime are not admissible to Canada under section 34 through 36 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
In terms of the actual closure of the embassy, I think the prime minister and minister Baird have spoken to that and in terms of safety, our first concern is for the safety of our diplomats and our public servants there. It was clear to us that following the ransacking of the embassy of the United Kingdom last year, that embassies deemed unfriendly by the Iranian regime were targets for that kind of violence and that given the situation, we just could not with confidence, keep that embassy open, given that our – the need for security for our people.
The last point on consular cases, look, I’ve been very involved in some of the Iranian consular cases. It’s important to understand that the Iranian regime refuses to recognize dual citizenship. So if an Iranian national comes to Canada, becomes a citizen, goes back with a Canadian passport, the Iranian government refuses to recognize that they are Canadians and quite frankly this means that our efforts to defend the consular interests of Canadian citizens in the Iranian jails have been – have had no traction because you know, we send a diplomat off to the ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand consular access and they say “I’m sorry, this person is an Iranian, we don’t recognize this person as a Canadian” and that’s the end of discussion and this is one of the reasons for our frustration quite frankly, that even our more vigorous efforts to represent the interests of these individuals have been completely and consistently stonewalled but we will, as the prime minister said, use whatever means we can through other governments and through other channels to represent the interests of those individuals.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 3:06 PM - 0 Comments
Last night, Jason Kenney wondered via Twitter what the lowest share of the popular vote had ever resulted in a party forming government.
BC Iconoclast has gone through the returns and finds that last night’s win for the PQ—with 31.9% of the vote—is the second smallest mandate in Canadian history, undercut only by the BC Liberals’ win in 1924 with 31.3% of the vote.
A total of 35 mandates have been won with less than 40% of the popular vote. Nine of those were in federal elections, including 2004 (which ranks as the 12th smallest), 2006 (10th), 2008 (19th) and 2011 (32nd).
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 1:31 AM - 0 Comments
One person is dead after a man opened fire at Pauline Marois’ victory rally in Montreal.
Boulversé par les événements violents auprés de la célébration péquiste à Montréal ce soir. C’est épouvantable.
— Jason Kenney (@kenneyjason) September 5, 2012
Sending congratulations and sympathies to Pauline Marois, prayers for the injured, and a hope that political violence will never re-occur.
— Elizabeth May MP (@ElizabethMay) September 5, 2012
Nous venons de vivre un attentat politique.L’oeuvre d’un désaxé ou pas,ns devons faire preuve de solidarité pour protéger notre démocratie.
— DenisCoderre (@DenisCoderre) September 5, 2012
— Paul Dewar (@PaulDewar) September 5, 2012
Nous sommes consternés devant cette violence et nos pensées sont avec les victimes et leurs proches. #Qc2012
— Carl Vallée (@carlvallee) September 5, 2012
Réunis à Terre-Neuve, les néo-démocrates sont sous le choc. Crime odieux, inconcevable. Nos pensées vont aux victimes, leurs proches.
— Karl Bélanger (@KarlBelanger) September 5, 2012
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 27, 2012 at 8:48 AM - 0 Comments
Apparently with the support of Jason Kenney, Joan Crockatt won the Conservative nomination in Calgary Centre this weekend.
Two sources indicated that three candidates were dropped and their votes redistributed before Crockatt emerged with more than 50 per cent of the vote. She had 445 votes on the fourth and final tally followed by investment manager Greg McLean with 283 votes and former alderman and MLA Jon Lord with 119 votes, according to the sources.
Lawyer Rick Billington, Quebec Tory organizer Joe Soares and businessman Stefan Spargo made up the rest of the field.
Ms. Crockatt also apparently had the support of Pierre Poilievre and had been endorsed by Mike Duffy. Greg McLean had the endorsement of the outgoing MP, Lee Richardson. Joe Soares was endorsed by Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge and former national campaign manager Doug Finley.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 5:12 PM - 0 Comments
Three months ago, when Conrad Black received a visa to return to Canada, Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann told the Globe that “the idea that the minister didn’t wink or nod in favour of this thing is impossible to imagine.” In response to that comment, Jason Kenney filed a grievance with the Law Society of Upper Canada. In response to that grievance, 80 lawyers signed an open letter stating their agreement with Mr. Mamann and declaring that they would not “succumb” to attempts by Mr. Kenney and his officials to “muzzle freedom of expression.” And in response to that letter, Mr. Kenney’s office accused the lawyers of debasing their profession.
“Baseless accusations of misconduct and reckless character smears, by someone holding himself out to be an expert, poison the public discourse and debase the legal profession,” Ms. Curic said. “Instead of engaging in kneejerk outbursts of blind solidarity, these lawyers might consider the long-term damage to their profession of elevating activism above professionalism.”
Of Mr. Black’s application, the Prime Minister assures ”it is not in the government’s interest to intervene in this matter in any way, shape or form.”
Back in May, when the NDP was making accusations of special treatment, the Prime Minister made an interesting claim of innocence (emphasis mine).
Mr. Speaker, once again aspersions are being cast on public servants without any evidence. The leader of the NDP owes them an apology. There has been no involvement of anyone on the political side of government in this. It would be just as easy for us if Mr. Black were not allowed to come to Canada, but that is not the judgment of those who administer the law.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
Between Jan. 17 and Dec. 31, 2011, 8,819 Mexicans racked up nearly $7 million in health care costs under the Interim Federal Health Program. Some 6,749 Hungarians charged more than $4.4 million, while 4,583 Columbians racked up more than $2.6 million in costs. Meanwhile, 3,790 Americans received more than $1.4 million in free health care. Jamaican claimants round out the top five with 809 health care users receiving more than $808,000 worth of health services …
According to Immigration and Refugee Board figures, last year 83 per cent of Mexican refugee applications were rejected, abandoned or withdrawn. The same could be said for 91 per cent of Hungarian claims, 98 per cent of American claims, 63 per cent of Columbian claims and 62 per cent of Jamaican claims.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 9:36 AM - 0 Comments
“We can’t have a Canada where we try to toll-gate different goods and services in different parts of the country,” Baird told CBC’s Power and Politics. ”Alberta has a great resource, it’s a great resource for Canada, and they obviously have to get that resource to market.”
Central to the Harper government’s response would seem to be an effort to turn tollgate into a verb.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 9:49 AM - 0 Comments
Jason Kenney joins the pipeline fight between Alberta and British Columbia.
Kenney, who met with the Times Colonist editorial board, said he does not support the provincial government’s call for a larger share of the estimated $81 billion in tax revenue that would be generated if the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is approved. ”I think taking a balkanized approach to the federation is unhelpful,” Kenney said. “The notion that there are 10 separate fiefdoms and you have to tollgate everything you move from east to west would massively undermine the whole concept of an economic union and efficient operation of the Canadian economy,” he said.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 6:58 PM - 0 Comments
Opposition MPs criticize Jason Kenney for agreeing with what he thought Rob Ford was saying.
Liberal MP John McKay, whose Scarborough riding was rocked by the shooting, said Kenney should have known better than to echo anything said by Ford, whom he accused of fanning “the flames of ignorance and prejudice.” ”It’s classic dopey on dopey,” McKay said in an interview.
McKay, who has spent considerable time since the shooting meeting with residents in the affected community, said they’re “upset that their community is going to be stigmatized.” He said Kenney’s talk of foreigners is only going to make that worse. ”If being born here of Jamaican or Caribbean parentage makes you a foreigner, I guess they’re foreigners,” McKay said, adding that he saw the residents “more as Canadians.”
Bob Rae tweets.
When Jason Kenney takes his policy advice from Rob Ford, you know we’re in deep trouble as a country.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 4:33 PM - 0 Comments
Now that the Toronto mayor has explained that he wasn’t quite talking about what the Immigration Minister apparently thought the Toronto mayor was talking about, the Immigration Minister has clarified both his views and the law.
“Obviously we can’t tell people which city they can and cannot live in,” Kenney said. “And if someone’s a Canadian citizen, and they’re convicted of a crime, there’s nothing we can do to deport them.”“If you’re a Canadian citizen, and you committed a crime, you spend your time in prison. Once you’re released, and you’re beyond parole, you get what’s called the mobility rights of the Charter of Rights. You get to choose where you’re gonna live. And whether we like it or not, that’s the situation,” he said.
A transcript of Mr. Kenney’s interview is here.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 9:57 AM - 0 Comments
Doctors confronted Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq in Hamilton yesterday.
O’Shea asked why the federal government hasn’t met with the Canadian Doctors for Refugee Health Care, a national collective that formed this year in response to cuts to refugee benefits.
Kraeker later stood to tell a story about a local seven-year-old refugee seen in Hamilton’s refugee health clinic, where both Kraeker and O’Shea see patients. The boy had an epileptic seizure because he couldn’t get his medication, which would have cost less than a dollar a day, Kraeker said. He was rushed to the emergency room. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say someone will die from this,” O’Shea said.
The Spectator has more on the exchange between the doctors and Ms. Aglukkaq here.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 1:59 PM - 0 Comments
The Immigration Minister seems to be tweeting help wanted ads as he tours Alberta.
July 12. Met w/ landscaping business owners in Calgary. Offering $16 to $18 / hr to push a lawn mower, but can’t recruit nearly enough Cdns to work.
Yesterday. Tenaris is offering $25/hr (w/ bonuses + benefits = $46/hr) for folks w/ Grade 12, for semi-skilled labour, but still not enough applicants.
Today. PCL says their average journeyman wage is ~ $50/hr, (plus benefits), ie $100K year. Great opportunities for construction workers across CDA.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 12:26 PM - 0 Comments
Jason Kenney talks to the Edmonton Journal about cuts to health care coverage for refugees.
The government said the scaling back of services offered through the Interim Federal Health Program is aimed at levelling the playing field by limiting refugee claimants to the same health-care benefits package that the average Canadian is able to access for free from each province or territory. ”I think there is a social equity issue there,” Kenney told the Journal’s editorial board on Monday, adding that cutting off access to extended prescription, dental and vision benefits for the targeted refugees will save $19 million per year. The program cost Canadians $84 million last year and Kenney said it was due to become a $100-million expense soon.
Critics argue that each Canadian would only have to shell out 59 additional cents per year to maintain the benefits, but they miss the point. Kenney said the cuts are aimed at people whose asylum claims have been denied on appeal but have yet to leave the country. ”If you’ve lost your asylum claim, don’t expect to stay four or five years getting extended benefits.” However, the cuts will also affect refugees who have been sponsored by religious groups and are in Canada legally. Kenney said it is reasonable to expect the religious groups that are already paying for refugees’ housing and food would also cover the $170 annual cost of extended benefits for the people they bring to Canada.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 16, 2012 at 4:15 PM - 0 Comments
I asked Jason Kenney’s office if there was any response to my interview with Dr. Philip Berger. Mr. Kenney’s spokeswoman sent along the following statement.
Canadians have been clear that they do not want illegal immigrants and bogus refugee claimants receiving gold-plated health care benefits that are better than those Canadian taxpayers receive. Our Government has listened and acted. We have taken steps to ensure that protected persons and asylum seekers from non-safe countries receive health care coverage that is on the same level as Canadian taxpayers receive through their provincial health coverage, no better. Bogus claimants from safe countries, and failed asylum seekers, will not receive access to health care coverage unless it is to protect public health and safety. Shamefully, the NDP and Liberals support bogus and rejected asylum seekers receiving gold-plated health care benefits. We disagree. Those who have been through our fair system and rejected should respect Canada’s laws and leave the country.
By Scaachi Koul - Monday, July 16, 2012 at 3:03 PM - 0 Comments
It isn’t the first time the pranksters have been caught poking fun at giant corporations
A new Shell website has popped up, called Arctic Ready, promoting drilling for oil in the Arctic, and a new slogan: “Let’s go.” If it sounds fishy, that’s because it is—it appears that the site is actually an elaborate hoax.
The ad campaign was actually created by the Yes Men, an international organization of corporate pranksters who often imitate with the intention of humiliating giant corporations.
The website is in typical Yes Men form: it looks 100 per cent legitimate on the surface, from the logos to the contact information, but on closer inspection, it’s a sharp take-down of Shell and pro-drilling language.
“For hundreds of years, explorers have battled the Arctic,” the website’s homepage says. “Today, we’re finally winning.”
The site promotes Shell’s new Let’s Go! Arctic campaign, complete with tone deaf arctic-energy ads. They’d be tragic if they were actually coming from Shell, but since they’re not, they’re just funny.
Take, for example, one shot of a running Arctic fox with the slogan, “You can’t run your SUV on ‘cute.’ Let’s go.” There’s also an image of the sinking Titanic captioned with, “Never again,” promoting the melting of even more polar ice.
And if your kids want to learn more about the bad polar ice, there’s a game for them to play.
The site also encourages the public to take part in an ad contest to make the best Arctic-energy ads. The best ones, they claim, will be printed and posted offline.
This is certainly not the first time that the Yes Men have created elaborate hoaxes and almost gotten away with it. In 2007, two supposed ExxonMobil representatives, analyst for the Washington-based National Petroleum Council “S.K. Wolff,” and co-speaker “Florian Osenberg,” spoke at a keynote luncheon at Calgary’s Gas and Oil Exposition, a three day oil and gas trade show during the Calgary Stampede.
Once the duo started handing out candles supposedly made of the remains of Reggie Watts, a deceased ExxonMobil janitor, the audience realized they were being tricked.
Wolff and Osenberg are actually Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, two of the most well-known Yes Men members. They were prominently featured in the 2003 documentary, The Yes Men.
Bichlbaum and Bonanno didn’t even get the chance to show the memorial video made by Watts before they were ushered away by security.
Meanwhile, a parody fundraiser page on IndieGoGo in the same satirical vein as Yes Men’s work has popped up, asking for donations towards Minister Jason Kenney’s efforts to kick refugee claimants out of Canada.
“As Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I recently tabled a bold new plan that would pay failed/bogus refugee claimants a small lump sum of cash ($2,000) to forget their rights to an appeal and leave the country voluntarily,” the page says under the guise of Kenney’s name. “That’s why I’m asking that Canadians show their support for me, Jason Kenney, and this innovative program by donating a few dollars of their own hard-earned money to help pay bogus refugees to leave the country.”
The fundraiser has yet to make a single dollar.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, July 16, 2012 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
Tory Sen. Salma Ataullahjan held a one of the better receptions on the Hill…
Tory Sen. Salma Ataullahjan held a one of the better receptions on the Hill in honour of the Canada Pakistan Parliamentary Association.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Jason Kenney was shouted at this weekend by a teenager who wanted to inquire about the Harper government’s cuts to health care for refugees. Mr. Kenney tweeted about the incident here and here. Bashir Mohamed now wants to debate the Immigration Minister.
The Edmonton teen who said he was dragged out of a Conservative party event Saturday and then arrested has a challenge for federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “I want to debate him one-on-one; a 10-minute debate about the issue,” Bashir Mohamed, 17, said Sunday.
Mohamed, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and came to Canada in 1997, attended the event at the Alberta Aviation Museum to protest the federal government’s cuts to refugee health care. “I waited until around the end of his speech, the applause died down and I stood up,” he said. “I couldn’t get past the first sentence when a guy came up … and dragged me out.”
Update 1:04pm. Huffington Post has video of the disruption.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 9, 2012 at 1:21 PM - 0 Comments
We, the undersigned, thank Jason Kenney for his efforts to streamline benefits afforded to refugees claimants under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) and bring them in line with the benefits received by tax-paying Canadians, including new Canadians.
Mr. Kenney seems to have sent the petition around in search of support.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 12:05 PM - 0 Comments
Meanwhile, in a letter—pdf here—to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, representatives of the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Dental Association, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Pharmacists Association, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada applaud the recent clarification to the minister’s reforms and urge him to make further reconsider. They also offer to work with government officials to explore ways in which services for refugee claimants could be delivered more efficiently and effectively.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 6, 2012 at 12:15 PM - 0 Comments
The CBC obtains documents that add to the mystery of Jason Kenney’s refugee health care reforms.
A notice of looming cuts to health services for refugees was mailed to more than 104,000 beneficiaries — including about 14,000 the federal government now says won’t be stripped of their supplementary medical services — and opposition MPs say it shows the government has flip-flopped on a contentious policy change … ”The Interim Federal Health Plan has been reformed. As of June 30, 2012, benefits will be reduced for all current and future beneficiaries,” the notice reads. It goes on to say that “prescription drug benefits are being reduced for all beneficiaries,” and that “vision care, dental care, devices to assist mobility, home care and long-term care will no longer be covered.”
But now, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says government-sponsored refugees will be eligible for the full range of supplemental health benefits — raising questions about whether the government back-tracked on a policy that was lambasted by physicians across the country.
See previously: Did Jason Kenney change his mind?
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 12:53 PM - 0 Comments
But Rob Katzman — owner of Cheetah’s and Leopard’s adult entertainment clubs in Windsor — said the government is targeting the sector as a political ploy intended to “legislate morality” without any evidence supporting the new policy. “Exploitation never happens,” he said. “We’ve been in business since 1985 and not one girl has ever complained about how she was treated. There is no empirical data that shows trafficking or exploitation — sexual or otherwise — is sourced in our adult (entertainment) business.”
Katzman noted massage parlours might be an area to target because in many cities they remain largely unregulated or difficult for municipalities to control, but strip clubs should not be included under the same umbrella. “We train our (managers) to look for problem situations where a woman gets dropped off by a man who appears in control over them or someone who confronts management and doesn’t let the girl speak. There is no evidence that is happening.”
Here are the official news release and backgrounder.