UFCW Canada demands Kenney’s resignation amid parliamentary rules violation


Kenney faces new accusation of partisanship
Toronto Star - March 8, 2011

Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada has called for the resignation of Jason Kenney, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship for allowing his parliamentary office to be used in a partisan attempt to fundraise for a pre-election advertising campaign.

The call for Kenney’s resignation comes in the wake of a misdirected letter on Kenney’s constituency letterhead that was sent to Harper MPs, asking them to quickly raise $200,000 to pay for an advertising blitz aimed at Chinese, South Asian, Ukrainian and Jewish voters in ten ridings across Canada: four of them in Greater Toronto; four on B.C.’s Lower Mainland; and one each in Manitoba and Quebec.

The letter also outlined the Conservative strategy for a spring election, referring to a $378,000
"pre-writ" ethnic media campaign to begin March 15.

“Minister Kenney should resign without delay.  He and the Prime Minister have proven once again all they care about is politics, and not the rules of Parliament which forbid the use of parliamentary resources for partisan purposes,” says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. “The Harper government claims it doesn’t want an election, but in the meantime the office of his immigration minister has become a campaign headquarters, cranking out fundraising letters.”

Kenney apologized for the incident but refused to resign over it. He categorized it as an unfortunate mishap that he would have prevented, except he was overseas when the letters were sent. Instead, his director of multicultural affairs, Kasra Nejatian took the blame and tendered his resignation.

“A minister is responsible for what happens on his watch. Nejatian’s resignation is just a scapegoat for Kenney’s untenable stance to take advantage of his parliamentary office for selfish political gains. If there is any degree of transparency or ethics left in the Prime Minister’s Office, then Mr. Harper must demand Mr. Kenney’s resignation, not that of a civil servant,”  says the UFCW Canada national president.

John Baird, the government house leader, announced that the government would investigate the matter. “You cannot use your position as a minister or as an MP to solicit funds for a purely partisan initiative,” says Naveen Mehta, UFCW Canada Director of Human Rights. “In all likelihood, and based on the past responses of this Tory Government, little if anything will be done and Kenney will walk away from this scandal with his job intact. Unfortunately, this is the unethical and morally bankrupt type of government that the Tories are trying to sell to immigrant communities.”