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Jason T. Kenney, PC, MP (born May 30, 1968) is Canada's current Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. He has represented the riding of Calgary Southeast in the Canadian House of Commons since 1997.

Initially elected as a candidate of the Reform Party of Canada, Kenney was re-elected as a Canadian Alliance candidate in 2000, and has since been re-elected twice as the candidate of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Following the Conservative victory in the 2006 general election, Kenney was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada. On 4 January 2007, he was sworn in as the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity, and as a Privy Councillor. Kenney has held the post of Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism since October 30, 2008.

Education and early life

Kenney was born in Oakville, Ontariomarker and raised in Saskatchewanmarker. He graduated from the Athol Murray College of Notre Damemarker, a Catholic, co-educational, boarding high school located in Wilcox, Saskatchewanmarker. He studied philosophy at the St. Ignatius Institute of the University of San Franciscomarker, a Jesuit university in San Francisco, Californiamarker. However he dropped out before completing his undergraduate degree to begin work in Saskatchewan provincial politics.

Political career

Kenney was originally a member of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party, and in 1988 he served as an executive assistant to Ralph Goodale, who at that time was party leader. Kenney later served a term as Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Association, and later as President and CEO of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a political advocacy organization.

He was a member of the Reform Party of Canada (1997-2000), which became the Canadian Alliance (2000-2003). He co-chaired the United Alternative Task Force, and served as the national co-chairman of Stockwell Day's campaign for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance. He also served as National Co-Chair of the Canadian Alliance 2000 election campaign. While on the Opposition benches in 1997-2005, Kenney served in a number of prominent roles in the Shadow Cabinet, including Deputy House Leader for the Official Opposition, critic for Canada-United States relations, critic for National Revenue, and critic for Finance.

He has also served as a volunteer director for several non-profit political organizations. These include the Catholic Civil Rights League and the National Foundation for Family Research.

Kenney has been named one of Canada's "100 Leaders of the Future" by Maclean's magazine; "one of Canada's leading conservative activists" by the Globe and Mail; and "one of 21 Canadians to watch in the 21st century" by the Financial Post magazine. Kenney was one of the leading supporters in the Canadian House of Commons of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In 2005, during parliamentary debate on same-sex marriage in Canada, Kenney stated that fellow MPs Libby Davies and Svend Robinson, both of whom had opposite sex relationships before coming out, stood as proof that marriage law doesn't discriminate against LGBT individuals since they can still marry members of the opposite sex.

In a later debate, when Don Boudria noted that a Christian group had registered a web domain in his name, using it to attack his position on same-sex marriage, Kenney criticized Boudria for being too "ignorant" to register his own web domain. In a spoof of Kenney's remarks, comedian Rick Mercer registered jasonkenney.org and made the domain redirect to the website of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada. Mercer subsequently changed it to Egale Canada, and more recently to the site of Michael Chong (a Conservative MP who resigned from cabinet on November 27, 2006 over a government motion recognizing the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada.) On Mercer's website he lists jasonkenney.org in his links section with the phrase "Where's it pointing to this week?", but the URL JasonKenney.org still redirects to Chong's page.

Kenney has also been active in promoting human rights (particularly freedom of religion) in autocratic countries. He is a member of Parliament's Canada-Tibet Committee, and was instrumental in causing honorary Canadian citizenship to be granted to the Dalai Lama in June 2006.

In January 2005, during a government trade mission in Chinamarker, Kenney visited the home of recently deceased Zhao Ziyang, the deposed Communist party chief. Zhao was a reformist purged for sympathizing with pro-democracy protesters before they were crushed by the military in 1989. Then-Prime Minister Paul Martin, who also attended the Chinese trade mission, was critical of him for this visit.

On February 6, 2006, he was appointed to be Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, with the portfolio of multiculturalism.

In August 2006, Kenney compared Hezbollah with the Nazi Party of 1930s Germanymarker. He also rebuked Prime Minister of Lebanon Fuad Saniora for having criticized Canada's support for Israelmarker in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Saniora had argued that most nations of the world, apart from Canada, regarded Israel's military actions in Lebanon as disproportionate and illegal. Kenney's response was, "Canada took a responsible position and I would hope that the Lebanese prime minister would express gratitude" for supporting attempts to help the Lebanese government regain control over those parts of its territory controlled by Hezbollah.

In April 2006, Kenney attended a rally supporting the People's Mujahedin of Iran, a group designated by Canadian federal legislation and UN agreements as a terrorist organization because it advocates the violent overthrow of the Iranian government and the purging of Western influence from the region. Kenney later claimed that he did not remember attending the rally, and then that he did not know at the time the group was connected to a terrorist organization.

In May-June 2007 Kenney attended the 2007 Bilderberg Meeting in Istanbulmarker, Turkeymarker with other Notable Canadians Heather Reisman, Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc., and Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary in the Office of the Premier of Ontario.

In early 2008, Kenney openly supported Progressive Conservative candidate Jonathan Denis, who later became the MLA for Calgary-Egmont, defeating Liberal Cathie Williams and the independent candidate, Craig Chandler, by a large margin. In early 2008 Kenney posted an announcement on his web site announcing that the Government of Canada recognizes the flag of the Republic of Vietnam as the symbol of the Vietnamese-Canadian community. He said "Our government recognises the flag as an important symbol of the Vietnamese-Canadian community's independence, strength, and belief in national unity,and attempts to disparage it are a deeply troubling attack on one of Canada's ethnic communities and on the principles of multiculturalism." In May 2008 he made a speech at one of their rallies lending strong support to their program.

In January 2009, Kenney made public statements critical of U.S. soldiers seeking asylum in Canada who were facing punishment for their refusal to participate in the Iraq war. He said that unlike in the Vietnam era, the current asylum seekers are neither "draft dodgers" nor "resisters", but rather are "people who volunteer to serve in the armed forces of a democratic country and simply change their mind to desert. And that's fine, that's the decision they have made, but they are not refugees." He also said that he considered them to be "bogus refugee claimants". These remarks have been seen by some supporters of the asylum seekers as being a form of interference in the asylum process. (See details)

In March 2009, Kenney said he would not overturn the Canada Border Services Agency's decision to bar British MP George Galloway from coming to Ontario, British Columbia and Québec, where he planned to give a series of speeches at the end of the month. The Immigration Minister's Office stated that the Canada Border Services Agency deemed Galloway as inadmissible to Canada due to national security concerns.

A spokesperson for the Minister claimed that Galloway openly admits giving "financial support" to Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist group in Canada.

Galloway described the decision to forbid him entry as "irrational, inexplicable and an affront to Canada's good name", adding that it "further vindicated the anti-war movement's contention that unjust wars abroad will end up consuming the very liberties that make us who we are". He threatened legal action against the Harper government, asserting that he was not a supporter of terrorism and was not barred from entering any other country, including Israel. He was later quoted as saying, "I don't raise money for Hamas. That's just a false statement. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a supporter of Hamas".

References

  1. Re 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
  2. Bilderberg 2007 - Towards a One World Empire? (Canadian Action Party, 2007)
  3. Announcement on Jason Kenney's website re the Republic of Vietnam
  4. YouTube: Speech at ARVN rally
  5. "Kenney's comments prejudice hearings for war resisters, critics say", CBC News report
  6. We move to Canada blog
  7. Canadian News Wire "Open Letter to Minister Jason Kenney from Canadian Council for Refugees re: War Resisters"
  8. Toronto Star, "Canada blocks outspoken British MP"
  9. The Guardian UK:"George Galloway banned from Canada"
  10. Rob Gillies, "Canada bans outspoken British lawmaker", Associated Press, 20 March 2009, 11:37; "Quotes of the day", Press Association National Newswire, 20 March 2009, 9:45pm
  11. Glen McGregor, "British MP denied entry threatens to sue Harper government", Canwest News Service, 20 March 2009; "Canadian Immigration bans British MP", The Canadian Press - Broadcast Wire, 11:16;
  12. Campbell Clark, "British MP vows court action after being barred from Canada", Globe and Mail, 21 March 2009, A2.


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