For the second time in less than a week, Canada's incumbent multiculturalism minister is raising eyebrows for his comments.
Jason Kenney, who is running for re-election in Calgary, tweeted a photo Monday of himself with Xavier, an 11-year-old Iraqi refugee who arrived in Canada via Syria last year.
Kenney noted that the boy "already speaks perfect, unaccented English."
— Stephen Lautens (@stephenlautens) October 5, 2015
One Twitter user quickly asked Kenney, "So, anyone with an accent isn't a real Canadian?"
The Conservative responded in a series of tweets, "Of course not. I have a serious accent when I speak French! I simply found it remarkable that a youngster who did not speak a word of English a year ago has learned so quickly that he sounds like he grew up in Canada."
Kenney called his remark a "harmless observation" but he explained that he has now deleted the tweet to shield the boy from "any controversy."
Naturally, Twitter users jumped on the remark about "perfect, unaccented English."
What does "unaccented English" even mean? Canadians sound different from coast to coast to coast. That's what makes us Canada.— Mike Morrison (@mikesbloggity) October 5, 2015
I just typed this tweet in perfect unaccented English.— Donna Lowe (@reloweeda) October 5, 2015
The tweet was part of a series of posts where Kenney introduced some refugees he met at an event Monday, including an Iraqi family who landed in Canada in March and received refugee status in July "thanks to our reform of the asylum system," wrote the Tory.
On Thursday, Kenney sparked the Twitter hashtag #PeopleLikeNenshi when he took offence at Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi's criticism of the Conservative Party's stance that the niqab, a face covering, should not be worn at citizenship ceremonies.
Kenney dismissed the critique as just "the mayor and people like him who are politicizing the issue."
Some people accused the Tory of racism, but Kenney later clarified that he was referring to "politically correct liberals."
Nenshi also told reporters that he didn't think Kenney meant anything offensive.
“Jason’s a friend of mine. Really what was happening is we were making fun of him for kind of careless language, which really, as a minister, you should be better than that. But it wasn’t because he was being racist. I happen to very much disagree with this policy," said the mayor, reported 660 News.
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