Jason Kenney is fighting back against The Guardian after the British paper published an article critical of the Conservative government's policies.
In a piece in the same paper headlined "Canada has not become ugly and intolerant," Immigration Minister Kenney responds to a recent article by Jonathan Kaiman titled "Maple leaf ragged: what ails Canada?"
Kaiman's story starts with the ominous warning that "there's trouble brewing in Canada" and goes on to attack the Tories on immigration reform, the development of the oil sands and the treatment of First Nations peoples. He also criticizes Pauline Marois and the PQ in Quebec for what he views as intolerance of other cultures.
Kenney is not drinking Kaiman's Kool-Aid and argues that the Guardian reporter's article would come as surprise to the "nine out of 10 Canadians who recently told pollsters that "Canada is the greatest country in the world."
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Kenney restricts himself solely to "correcting" Kaiman on the issue of immigration, claiming that Canada is actually increasing immigration and making the system more "flexible." He also refutes claims that Tory changes to health care for refugees have eliminated basic services and that the government is unleashing a "crackdown" on illegal immigrants.
Kenney reserves his harshest rebuke for Kaiman's claim that the Conservatives' policies on immigration "point to a deep-rooted, yet widely ignored undercurrent of racism in Canadian society." Kenney slams Kaiman on this point, arguing the reporter "has aligned himself with the radical fringe of racial grievance-mongers" and ignored that Canada is the very model of a tolerant society.
The Conservatives have assiduously courted immigrant voters since coming to power. "Stephen Harper has made it his life’s mission to connect with them, to understand them, to talk to them in their language," according to The Globe And Mail's John Ibbitson.
Many political pundits, Ibbitson among them, believe winning the immigrant vote in Canada's sprawling suburbs will be crucial to holding power in the coming decades and it seems the Tories will not endure criticism on this front silently.
Do you believe the Tory changes to the immigration system are signs of an undercurrent of racism in Canadian society or simply an attempt to make the system more efficient while welcoming new arrivals and keeping fraudulent applicants out? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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