Watching the train wreck that is Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is hard enough — but the other, smaller self-immolation behind it has been every bit as gut-wrenching, if significantly less public.
For the most part, straight news sources have been taking snapshots of the Kenney disaster as it unfolded. Here’s what the photos look like:
Photo one: Canadian Press (CP) breaks the news that Kenney’s office struck three gay rights factoids from a pocket-sized guide to Canada for prospective immigrants. The tidbits made it clear that gay sex and gay marriage are legal here, and discrimination based on one’s sexuality is illegal.
The initial CP story also reveals that bureaucrats made a last-ditch effort to get the gay content back into the guide. And since CP dug up this info through an access to information request, it’s all documented.
Kenney’s initial response, through an aide: The booklet, which is more than 60 pages long, can hardly be expected to be encyclopedic.
Implication: Kenney doesn’t think gay rights are important.
Photo two (archival): Helen Kennedy of Egale Canada tells reporters that she met with Kenney after the immigration guide’s release in December. At the time, she complained about the lack of gay content in the book. She says Kenney insisted that the omission was an “oversight” and that gays would be included in the second printing.
Implication: Kenney is a weaselly, lying, two-faced jerk.
Photo three: Kenney sends out his assistant to imply that gay rights are not a Canadian value, but a Liberal Party value (which is charitable), and to poke Scott Brison in the eye with… Mackenzie King’s Nazi sympathies? A shameful, childish rejoinder.
Implication: Kenney and his assistant are hyper-partisan hacks.
Photo four: Back on Parliament Hill, Kenney is asked about axing the gay rights facts from the booklet. He curtly tells a scrum, “I did no such thing” and turns tail, hiding in the Conservative caucus room. Reporters are left scratching their heads, since the access to information docs show otherwise.
Implication: Kenney is a coward.
Photo five: The excuses get wilder. His aide (the same one) says that Kenney’s signature isn’t on any of the CP documents. Oh, well that explains it! The workaholic, virginal minister doesn’t read his own mail or make his own decisions!
Implication: Kenney is lazy, incompetent or illiterate (or a combination of the three).
Photo six: During Question Period, New Democrat Olivia Chow demands that Kenney explain himself. Kenney says he takes responsibility for what he’s done, but doesn’t explain what role he played in the decision. He’s proud of the guide. He also doesn’t apologize, presumably because he thinks he made the right decision.
In the end, Kenney has been so slimy, so spineless, that even the National Post called him out on it. To me that he’s the very worst mix of partisan ideologue and sleazy, people-pleasing baby kisser. Please, will someone put Jason Kenney out of our misery? Fire him. It’s time.
So that’s the big train wreck.
But there’s been another smaller, one-woman disaster.
Egale Canada has been riding the Kenney choo-choo for months. Helen Kennedy, Egale’s only staffer, has a special interest in immigration issues. And she is one of the smartest queer advocates in the country when it comes to the topic. She has a thoughtful, thorough remedy for our sometimes arbitrary immigration and refugee system. She’s also a politico, an ex-assistant to Olivia Chow and a former political candidate herself.
So, when the Kenney caboose went off the rails, Egale was like an unlucky passenger ejected in a fiery mass — and a week later, the hapless gay lobby group is still trying to put itself out. Seriously — that bad.
Her conversation — specifically, his statement that the omission was an “oversight” — is crucial. It flips Kenney’s image from merely an ideological, knuckle-dragging social conservative (duh) to a lying, two-faced crap factory.
It’s abundantly clear that Kenney doesn’t care about the same things Egale does. It’s abundantly clear that Kenney lied to Kennedy’s face.
So why is she so equivocal in her comments? What makes her think that, after intentionally removing the gay info from the guide, they’d fix it in the second printing?
Kennedy told Xtra late last week that she had to “take him at his word.”
No you don’t! Jason Kenney lied to you. That pretty much means you shouldn’t take anything he says at face value anymore. Instead, she’s staked her reputation, and Egale’s, on Kenney’s next move.
All in all, last week Kenney and Kennedy earned neighbouring spots on my blacklist. What will happen this week?