Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney listens to a question while speaking to journalists in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 7, 2011. (Chris Wattie/Reuters/Chris Wattie/Reuters)
Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney listens to a question while speaking to journalists in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 7, 2011. (Chris Wattie/Reuters/Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Kenney fends off demands for resignation over fundraising letter Add to ...

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has paid the House of Commons $10 to cover the cost of parliamentary letterhead mistakenly used to make a fundraising pitch.

Mr. Kenney says he's also referred the matter to the parliamentary ethics watchdog.

Those moves are on top of last week's firing of a political staffer who sent out a letter from Mr. Kenney's office seeking donations to pay for a partisan ad campaign targeting ethnic communities.

More related to this story

But opposition parties are far from satisfied and are continuing to call for Mr. Kenney's resignation.

They want to know whether government resources were used to compile the extensive demographic and polling data used in the Power Point presentation that accompanied the letter.

And they maintain the letter has laid bare a more serious conflict of interest: Mr. Kenney's dual role as Immigration Minister and the Tories chief political organizer in multicultural communities.

"It seems to me that is the real problem here," said deputy Liberal leader Ralph Goodale. "It's a brutal conflict of interest that leads to the exploitation of the very people that he is charged as a minister to represent."

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe said Mr. Kenney's dual roles are "a scandal" in themselves.

"Being the Minister of Immigration and [saying] 'We'll go and ask money from those specific [ethnic]groups to win ridings.' I mean it's a very clear message: If you vote for us, maybe we'll be more open to you."

Deputy NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was emphatic that Mr. Kenney must go.

"Jason Kenney broke every conceivable rule with regard to using government and ministerial personnel, material, resources for partisan political purposes and he's got to resign."

But Mr. Kenney, one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most valued ministers, is unlikely to be going anywhere soon.

He defended his actions in the case of the mistakenly sent letter and insisted he's taken every step necessary to separate his ministerial and political duties.

Mr. Kenney said he's created, at his own expense, a personal letterhead to be used for partisan mail-outs. It wasn't used in the case of last week's fundraising letter because he was out of the country and unable to supervise Kasra Nejatian, his former director of multicultural affairs.

Outside of normal government hours, he said political staffers are entitled to spend their time on partisan matters if they choose.

"That's been the case in every government in every parliamentary office and I suspect that's the case in every democratic country in the world," Mr. Kenney said.

He maintained there's nothing unusual in his dual roles. He said all cabinet members have both ministerial and partisan duties.

The Commons ethics committee decided Monday to call Mr. Nejatian to explain what other parliamentary resources may have been used to put together the letter and presentation.

Follow us on Twitter: @GlobePolitics

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories