Considering the most recent news release issued by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs followed almost immediately (within a few days) by two tweets, (Tweet #1 and Tweet #2), issued by the official Twitter account of Jason Kenney, the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, it appears that the full on promotion of Mr. Tim Laidler as a Conservative candidate within the highest echelons of the Conservative Party has now begun. Mr. Laidler is the Conservative candidate for the newly established riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam in the suburbs of Vanouver, a new riding that takes in portions of James Moore’s former riding of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam. As you may be aware, Mr. Laidler is an Afghan veteran who is extremely supportive of the Conservative government and in that sense, is very politically useful for the Conservatives in countering the public beating that they have been taking recently over their treatment of veterans. An example of Mr. Laidler’s partisan and unwavering defence of the Conservative’s handling of Veterans Affairs during the reign of former Minister Julian Fantino can be found here. It should be noted that this particular episode of “The West Block” aired a mere 15 days before Minister Fantino was replaced as the Minister of Veterans Affairs and officially demoted to associate minister of National Defence, a junior portfolio position that has been vacant for the majority of the past five decades.
Of the two most recent tweets by Minister Kenney, one of them caught my eye and is shown below. In the tweet, Mr. Kenney expresses his pleasure at meeting some of the former Afghan translators that came to Canada as part of a special program and he thanks Tim Laidler. This is of course, wonderful to see as these individuals performed a great service for the Canadian mission in Afghanistan and it is great to see that they are being taken care of. These former translators were often the targets for reprisals once the Canadian Mission ended so anything that we as a nation can do to help them is great. Mr. Laidler had previously argued that Canada should help these former translators and he should be commended for that and I am pleased to see that he was successful in his lobbying.
There is however a somewhat awkward irony about the tweet that may not be immediately apparent upon first view. One must remember that this is the same Jason Kenney who personally issued a niqab ban in citizenship ceremonies while he was the Minister of Immigration. This ban is currently the subject of a lawsuit as the Government of Canada is currently being sued by a Pakistani woman living in Mississauga. According to the CBC, “at the time, Kenney said the niqab represented a view of women that is unacceptable in Canada.” This edict was roundly criticized at the time with many suggesting that racist views underlied the edict rather than any procedural issue and that the edict was an “act of racism and abuse of power”. Mr. Kenney has also recently come under fire for not deleting anti-Muslim comments on his official Facebook page when posts critical of the Conservative government are of course quickly deleted. Examples of these offensive posts can be seen here.
So stepping back what you see in this particular tweet is the political partisan use of the former Afghan translators and, at the same time, the cross promotion of Mr. Laidler, the Conservative candidate for the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam. Underlying all this is a smiling, self-promoting Mr. Kenney seemingly saying “while we appreciate what you did for us in Afghanistan, for goodness sakes don’t expect your wives to be allowed to wear their niqab wherever they wish”. I wonder if the former Afghan translators knew about Mr. Kenney’s background and his apparent personal views whether they would have been so willing to have their picture taken with him. Again, it must be acknowledged that Mr. Laidler obviously has no control over the contents of Mr. Kenney’s tweets and/or the usage of photos that he is a part of. I am merely pointing out the irony of the Tweet given Mr. Kenney’s apparent personal views.
I will accept that it could be argued that the above may be making something political out of something that was not intended to be political. In my defence, I would remind the reader that, as suggested by Gregory Thomas, director of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation in reference to the political use of offices and official accounts both by the sitting government and opposition parties,
“They are all doing politics 24/7 365 [days a year],” he said. “You can pretty much expect that anything that comes out of those offices is going to be of a partisan nature, whether supporting or opposing what the government is doing.”
This definitely appears to be the case in regards to the two recent tweets issued by Mr. Kenney and the most recent news release from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs as well as the pictures below. Pulling out all the stops on this one. Yikes.