Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity Jason Kenney is being touted as a serious contender for a full cabinet portfolio as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Kenney, a workhorse of the Conservative government, would retain his duties in Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity but bring these under the umbrella of CIC.
Kenney’s duties since January of 2007 when he took on the Sec. State position have been to connect new Canadians, and the various communities they populate, with the government of Canada and unofficially advocate as a Conservative ambassador to these groups on behalf of the party.
The Conservative Party has had an active strategy of reaching out to these constituencies to break what has been seen as a lock on these groups by the Liberal Party since Trudeau.
“Typically, I think, the Liberals pursued what some people have called an ethnic-brokerage model of outreach, where they would identify leaders of certain groups who somehow magically would become the recipients of substantial grants and subsidies for their community organizations”
What is Kenney talking about? A quick Google search found this:
TORONTO, February 9, 2005 — Member of Parliament (Scarborough–Agincourt) Jim Karygiannis, on behalf of Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women Liza Frulla, today announced $46,275 in funding for the Canadian Arab Federation. The funds will allow the organization to develop its own Web site.
“Until now, there really has been no Web site highlighting all the many contributions made by Canadians of Arab origin to our society,” said Mr. Karygiannis. “This project will help Web users from Canada and abroad to better understand this vast community.”
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Minister responsible for Ontario Joseph Volpe added his support. “This Web site will be a valuable networking tool for members of the Arab-Canadian community,” said Minister Volpe.
“The Internet enables us to engage in dialogue with people of all backgrounds and all cultures,” said Minister Frulla. “If we wish to build a truly diverse society in which all communities are represented, we must invest in Web sites like this one.”
Let’s check out what $46,275 buys in web development.
This website features a nice splash page that goes to a website that doesn’t appear to be maintained as it features broken links and an event calendar long forgotten. The website’s content doesn’t seem have taken much time to produce as some of the text has been lifted from othersources online.
I emailed Jason Kenney’s office for a reaction, and received comment from Alykhan Velshi, Kenney’s Director of Communications.
“It really is outrageous the way that Liberal-friendly ethnic community leaders would find their loyalty rewarded with government handouts. To say the problem was systematic understates, I think palpably, the extent of the Tammany Hall operation the Liberals tried to build when in government.”
“[The Canadian Arab Federation] current National President Khaled Mouammar is a former Liberal political appointee who gained some notoriety for his role in the last Liberal leadership campaign. CAF’s previous National President is Omar Alghabra, a Liberal MP elected in 2006.
“Between 2003 and 2005, when Alghabra was CAF’s president, CAF received more than $400,000 in hand-outs from the Department of Canadian Heritage alone.
“They were awarded a $330,565 grant to ‘build organisational capacity’, another $46,399 to ‘communicate effectively with governments at all levels’, and a further $46,275 to design a website.”
Yet this problem doesn’t only reside with Liberals. Canwest’s David Akin points out the (for lack of a better term) pork that the Conservatives have been delivering too. Is this spending necessary?
UPDATE: Interesting question. If the CAF website was produced in partnership with Canadian Heritage, why isn’t it in both official languages?
In March of 2007, the Conservative Party of Canada held a training conference for its staff and campaign volunteers in Toronto. The conference was packed with seminars and panels designed to effectively educate Conservative Party activists on the best techniques known to win elections.
Six months later, Daniel Leblanc from the Globe and Mail got wind of a specific seminar at the conference that included information to optimize campaigning to reach out to multicultural groups for their votes.
“Select ethnic and religious groups across Canada are being targeted by a previously unknown Conservative team that is bluntly gunning for votes in a bid to supplant the Liberals in multicultural ridings in the next election.”
Bluntly gunning for targeted minorities? Yeah… really.
Now, let’s move on to 2008. The blog Progress for Progressives describes a recent Liberal Party training course that the author had attended where… “targeting by ethnicity” is part of a seminar on voter contact.