Jason Kenney says federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is “soft on human smuggling” and that a re-elected majority Conservative government would re-introduce its bill against human smuggling without amendment.
The Immigration Minister made the comments Wednesday morning after watching cricket on TV in a restaurant as he campaigned to bolster Tory efforts to take Vancouver Kingsway, the NDP-held riding once home to former cabinet minister David Emerson.
“I want to call upon Mr. Ignatieff, who is here right now to explain why he's soft on human smuggling, why he opposed the adoption of our bill to crack down on human smuggling” Mr. Kenney told reporters.
Bill C-49, which would have imposed tougher penalties on human smuggling, died with the launch of the federal election. The opposition had deemed the bill draconian.
Mr. Kenney said a re-elected Tory government would be open to “reasonable amendments” if they maintain a disincentive for paying money to smugglers.
“But if opposition amendments are all about watering down the bill, removing the provisions that are going to stop the smuggling? No, we can't support those,” he said.
“We hope there will be a Conservative majority and we can pass Bill C-49 as is.”
The veteran Calgary-area Tory has long been at the forefront of Conservative outreach efforts into Canada's ethnic communities, seeking to broaden the party’s base.
Indeed, a Kenney staffter quit recently after sending out a fundraising letter on ministerial letterhead with a presentation appealing to ethnic voters.
Mr. Kenney was skeptical about Mr. Ignatieff's attacks on Tory ethnic outreach, suggesting it was marginalizing ethnic voters.
He noted the federal Liberals advertise in minority-language media, that Mr. Ignatieff was main-streeting in Vancouver's Chinatown and that the Liberal candidates' manual includes ethnic-outreach recommendations.
“So I think he's being extremely disingenuous about that. When people talk about ethnic communities, it's just a shorthand way of talking about the diversity of different ethno-cultural communities in Canada and the language Liberals use all the time.”