Has Immigration Minister Jason Kenney been emailing you?
Maybe it’s because you’re gay.
The minister sent out an email on Sept 24 lauding the government’s efforts to protect and promote queer rights abroad. It highlights the “emphasis . . . on gay and lesbian refugee protection, which is without precedent in Canada’s immigration history.”
The Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor broke the story, complete with reaction over the “creepy” letter. Many were left scratching their heads, wondering how the ministry got a list of emails for queer Canadians. (This journalist didn’t receive one.)
One heterosexual Facebook user was confused upon receiving the email that appeared to be for gay eyes only.
Alexis Pavlich, a spokesperson for Minister Kenney, told Xtra that the email “was sent in response to individuals who have communicated with our office about gay refugee issues.”
Some who received the emails, however, are calling foul, arguing that they’ve never contacted Kenney’s office before.
Kenney was in the news earlier this month, trumpeting his government’s acceptance of more than 100 queer refugees from Iran. However, the government has yet to introduce a metric to measure the number of queer refugees claiming asylum, nor has it established guidelines on how to admit those who claim persecution based on sexual orientation, evidenced by cases such as Leatitia Nanziri’s.
The email also tags in Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who took to the UN to raise “the particular plight of gay and lesbian refugees.”
Even though he’s never stated it publicly, Baird has been outed by a Conservative colleague in the mainstream press.
The email also touches on “efforts to promote basic freedoms around the world, and to take a stand . . . against the marginalization of women in many societies.” This comes amidst news that Kenney will vote in favour of a bill that could reopen the long-dormant abortion debate in the House of Commons.
The letter concludes by citing numerous news articles that promote the government’s approach to dealing with queer refugees, including a letter from the minister posted on Xtra.
This summer, Xtra reported on changes to Canada’s immigration laws introduced by Kenney that activists say could hurt queer refugees disproportionately.
Kenney’s email even cites the Rainbow Refugee Coalition, whose staff members might not appreciate being used for Conservative campaigning given that they’ve blasted many of the government’s positions on immigration reform.
This isn’t the first time Canadians have been unsettled by cultural targeting by the Conservatives. As McGregor notes, there was a kerfuffle raised in 2007 when many Jewish-Canadians were surprised to find Rosh Hashanah greeting cards in their mailboxes, despite not being affiliated with any Jewish groups.