03/05/2013 01:50 EST | Updated 05/05/2013 05:12 EDT

Christy Clark Scandal: Jason Kenney Offers Advice On Ethnic Outreach


Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says he hasn't been following the scandal now engulfing B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark over her partisan strategy to reach out to ethnic voters, allegedly using taxpayer money.

But in a conference call from Berlin, Kenney said the federal Conservatives' success in that area can be chalked up to a simple strategy:

"Our approach to outreach toward new Canadians and members of our cultural communities has been based on what I think is the most honest appeal possible, which is to encourage people to vote on the basis of their values and to align their political behaviour with their values," he said in response to a question about Clark's plight.

But he went on to plug what he has long argued is a natural fit between Conservative party politics — not Liberal — and new Canadians.

"As I've always said, I believe the majority of new Canadians are natural conservatives who have a profound work ethic, are often very entrepreneurial, they want to be rewarded for hard work and not punished through high taxes, they're often respectful of tradition (and) intolerant of criminality, with a strong support for principled democratic foreign policy. These are the kinds of principles I think our party at its best represents."

Spokesman for federal Tory outreach

For the better part of a decade, Kenney has been the mastermind of a successful Conservative strategy to woo new Canadian votes away from what was once their usual choice: the federal Liberal party.

He has been credited with helping his party win a majority in the last election by sweeping several immigrant-dominated ridings in the Toronto and Vancouver areas.

- Related: 10 'very ethnic' ridings targeted by the 2011 Conservative campaign

His own record in this regard hasn't been without controversy.

In 2011 one of his senior staffers resigned after sending out a party fundraising letter on ministerial letterhead.

In later testimony before a parliamentary committee, Kasra Nejatian admitted it was he who inserted the controversial words "very ethnic" into the fundraising letter, which was soliciting money from Conservative MPs for target ridings.

"I certainly didn't mean any insult by it. I consider myself an ethnic Canadian," Nejatian told the committee, who immigrated to Canada from Iran when he was a child.

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