Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa September 18, 2012.


The department of Citizenship and Immigration spent almost $750,000 monitoring ethnic media over the past three years, including assessments of election campaign events and "perceptions" of Minister Jason Kenney.

A series of contracts from March 2009 through May 2012 cost taxpayers $745,050, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information law.

Those contracts state they were for work "monitoring key words and issues related to the department's mandate."

Story continues below advertisement

But the more than 7,000 pages of documents reveal the media monitoring went well beyond public policy issues related to citizenship and immigration.

"A series of interviews and appearances by Minister Kenney and his representatives were strong contributors to the upswing in the ministerial image," says a report from May 5, 2010, under a pie graph titled "Minister Overall Perception."

The ministerial perception charts were weekly fixtures in the lengthy media monitoring reports in the spring of 2010, when the mino rity Conservatives were on constant election footing.

And while the personal Kenney pie charts vanished after the spring election window closed that year, and were not reprised, the focus of the daily media monitoring remained profoundly political.

Daily monitoring continued during the 2011 election period and included reports – graded from "very positive" to "very negative" – on campaign events by Kenney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper and their political opponents.

Most government departments do issue-related media monitoring, but the Citizenship and Immigration exercise appears more politically attuned.

Kenney has been described frequently and affectionately by his colleagues as the "minister for curry in a hurry" because of his frenetic wooing of ethnic communities on behalf of the Conservative cause.

Story continues below advertisement

His efforts have raised eyebrows, notably when a political staffer used Kenney's MP office letterhead to solicit $200,000 from Conservative MPs for an ad campaign in opposition-held ridings with large ethnic communities.

Reports on that controversy topped Citizenship and Immigration's daily ethnic media monitoring reports in March 2011. That same month, with an election clearly looming, the taxpayer-funded reports began being copied by email to an anonymous, private account,, in addition to departmental officials.

The departmental headquarters, including Kenney's ministerial office, is located at 365 Laurier Ave.W., in Ottawa. The email account is no longer active.

Nancy Caron, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration, said the ministerial perceptions exercise was "one trial of many" and that the department was not asked to track the issue.

"Media monitoring is something that's done all year round and it's part of the (government of Canada) communications policy — whether there's an election or not," Ms. Caron said.

As for the "laurier365" email address, Ms. Caron said it is "an external back-up email used by Citizenship and Immigration Canada's media monitoring team when the CIC email system is down or security filters inadvertently stop delivery of incoming documents."

Story continues below advertisement

Robert Shepherd, a Carleton University expert in public governance and ethics, says the Harper government has spent a great deal of time, energy and public dollars on communications.

"This is all about understanding where the votes are," he said in an interview.

Shepherd, who ran a management consulting firm that advised a range of federal government departments for two decades before joining Carleton's school of public policy and administration in 2007, says the practice falls into an ethical grey zone.

"If you buy into the argument that you're the government in power and the bureaucracy is there to support the executive branch, then just about anything goes," said Shepherd.

But media monitoring of partisan events, especially after an election writ is dropped, he said, is a clear abuse of departmental resources.

"If it's serving a partisan interest, then yes, that is offline – very much so when an election is on," said Shepherd.

Story continues below advertisement

Yet during the six-week election campaign in 2011, the media monitoring continued.

A report on Conservative candidate, Parm Gill, in Brampton, Ont., raising $25,000 during the 2011 campaign got a "positive" mention, as did Harper's campaign appearance at a Khalsa Diwan Society event in Vancouver.

"Jason Kenney: We seek a majority in Parliament" was the headline from the Mar. 31 publication Shalom Toronto, with a "positive" assessment under the subject heading "Multiculturalism – antisemitism."

Under "Immigration – Policy," the April 4 report opens with Sing Tao's item on Kenney warning that "minority or coalition government may cause economy to collapse."

There's a report on Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's campaign promise on family reunification and various reports on Liberal Ruby Dhalla – a targeted MP who lost her seat to Conservatives.

Under "Immigration – Policy," the April 7 report leads with a story from the Canadian Punjabi Post in which a campaigning Bal Gosal, now Harper's minister for sport, praised Kenney for immigration reforms, "cutting down the crime rate in Canada" and addressing human smuggling and fraudulent marriage. The coverage was rated "positive."

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies