An Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful wants Muslim Canadians to know they have and will always be welcome in Alberta — but the message has some wondering when Jason Kenney changed his tune.
The former federal immigration minister posted a video to YouTube Tuesday, condemning Sunday's shooting attack at a Quebec mosque that left six people dead and 19 injured. (Watch the video embedded above.)
Kenney highlights how Alberta was home to Canada's first mosque and that current Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi is the first Muslim to lead a major Canadian city.
Jason Kenney has stood in support of Canada's Mulism community in recent weeks. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
"Let us all find ways to embrace our Muslim friends and all people of faith to ensure that this continues to be a place of freedom and security for generations to come," he said.
He also thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his "thoughtful and compassionate words" following the attack.
Thank-you to Prime Minister Trudeau for his thoughtful & compassionate words responding to the Quebec terror attack: https://t.co/Gu20sycUQ5
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 31, 2017
However, it's a stance that's confusing for Canadians who recall Kenney's 2011 directive forbidding Muslim women from wearing niqabs while taking the oath of citizenship.
— Just Me (@HotShotAndy) January 31, 2017
@jkenney niqab ban, snitch lines, fake citizen ceremonies don't sound welcoming to me.
— officialdoubter (@polycan6632) February 1, 2017
It wasn't Trump who tried to ban the Niqab at Canadian citizenship ceremonies. No. that was Harper and Kenney. #cdnpoli
— Kathleen Smith (@KikkiPlanet) January 30, 2017
Kenney was serving as immigration minister at the time when the ban was imposed.
At the time, Kenney said the niqab represented a view of women unacceptable in Canada.
The Conservatives fought a hard battle to uphold the ban after a Muslim woman from Mississauga, Ont. launched a lawsuit against the government after she objected to unveiling her face in public for the official oath-taking ceremony.
The government lost in Federal Court and again at the Federal Court of Appeal before going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to try to reinstate its ban. In the end, the government lost the fight, which cost them more than $400,000.
Despite Kenney's complicated past with the Canadian Muslim community, some see his recent support of religious freedoms as a welcome change.
— Kevin Burke (@kevinjamesburke) January 31, 2017
— Kevin Burke (@kevinjamesburke) January 31, 2017
— Ryan Wright (@ryanwright) January 31, 2017
Kenney took to Twitter over the weekend urging the Canadian government to welcome those stranded in the U.S. after President Donald Trump banned Syrian refugees and anyone with a passport from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country.
Canada should offer temporary permits to welcome those stranded by the executive order, Kenney said. A move he called a "brutal, ham-fisted act of demagogic political theatre."
He also also shared a clip of his last words in the House of Commons as an MP, where he praised the role of immigrants and refugees in shaping Canada.
In light of the Executive Order, posting my last words in the House of Commons, where I talked about the refugees who helped to build Canada https://t.co/2t3lMhF5PV
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017
Also on HuffPost:
Since Jason Kenney became defence minister in February, 2015, his credibility has previously been called into question over a series of incidents ranging from social media gaffes to inaccurate factual claims.
On March 8 – International Women’s Day – Kenney took to Twitter to thank the Canadian Forces for fighting ISIL’s “campaign to enslave women and girls.” He shared striking images of women in burkas chained together. However, The Ottawa Citizen reported that the women in one image were actually performing a ceremonial re-enactment in honour of the prophet Mohammad's grandson, Hussein, and his family. The National Post later reported that another photo was from an anti-ISIL protest in the United Kingdom and a third image, supposedly showing an ISIL militant and a child bride, has also be called into question. When Liberals asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper in question period if he would reprimand his minister for the misleading tweet, the prime minister responded that Kenney was “new to his portfolio.” Though the National Council of Canadian Muslims derided the tweet as “corrosive” and opposition parties called for Kenney to remove it from his account, the tweet still exists.
Kenney also claimed in March that a Russian fighter jet “buzzed” the HMCS Fredericton at a low altitude in the Black Sea and stood by a claim from his parliamentary secretary that the frigate was confronted by Russia warships. However, NATO officials told Postmedia that Russian aircraft actually flew over the NATO maritime task force to which the Fredericton was assigned at a high altitude and denied any confrontation with Russian warships took place. The confusion over the incident spurred a blistering rant from CBC host Rick Mercer. “Someone’s lying,” Mercer said. “The Minister of Defence, NATO. They both have completely different stories.”
According to The Ottawa Citizen, while Kenney was on a conference call with reporters discussing Canada’s expanded mission against ISIL, he said he did not take NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair seriously because “the NDP has opposed every single overseas military deployment in Canadian history.” Not true. The NDP supported Canada’s 2011 military mission in Libya, but did not vote for extension.
According to that same Citizen story, Kenney also claimed that defence spending under the previous Liberal governments fell to a record low of 0.7 per cent of GDP. Not true. From the story: “NATO, the World Bank and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a respected think-tank on global defence expenditures, say Canadian defence spending never fell below 1.1 per cent of GDP between 1990 and 2012. However, last year – under the Conservatives – it slipped to one per cent.” A spokesperson told the paper that Kenney meant to say defence spending dropped by 0.7 per cent under the Grits.
Kenney also told reporters in late March that Canada needed to join the bombing campaign against ISIL in Syria because only this country and the United States have the kind of precision-guided smart bombs needed for the airstrikes. Not true. As reported by The Ottawa Citizen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, both part of the five nation, U.S.-led coalition bombing targets in Syria, have used such bombs against ISIL. Gen. Tom Lawson, the chief of the defence staff, originally backed up Kenney’s claim that only Canada and America had the weapons. However, Lawson changed his tune on April 1, saying Canada’s allies did indeed have the weapons. Kenney apologized for the gaffe in the House of Commons, placing the blame on a briefing error.
UP NEXT: Mosul After ISIS
In this undated handout photo provided by the Library of Congress taken during the autumn of 1932, men pause on a lorry on the road to Mosul, northern Iraq.
Fighters from the Islamic State group parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle down a main road in Mosul on Monday, June 23, 2014.
A 1932 image of Lady Surrma of the Assyrian community posing for a portrait in Mosul, northern Iraq.
An Iraqi woman looking at a shop display in central Mosul after the Islamic State group ordered clothes shop owners to cover the faces of the mannequins on Monday, July 21, 2014.
In this undated handout photo provided by the Library of Congress taken during the autumn of 1932, the Tigris River stretches out in the distance as seen from Mosul, northern Iraq.
File photo of smoke rising during airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants at the Mosul Dam on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.
A 1932 image taken during the autumn of Nebi Yunis, the tomb of the prophet Jonah, in Mosul, northern Iraq,
Iraqis walk in the rubble of the revered Muslim shrine after it was was destroyed on Thursday, July 24, 2014 by militants who overran the city in June and imposed their harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
In this undated handout photo provided by the Library of Congress taken during the autumn of 1932, Iraqis pause in the market in Mosul, northern Iraq.
Demonstrators chanting pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul on Monday, June 16, 2014.