It's not the first the man MP Olivia Chow calls the Minister of Censorship and Deportation has rewritten Canadian history to conform to the Harper Conservatives' vision of Canada.
First Kenney's CIC removed from its website all reference to Canada's proud history of welcoming draft resisters and military deserters during the Vietnam War. Then they re-wrote the Canadian Citizenship Guide to emphasize military conflict and no longer characterize Canada as "a nation of peace".
In fact, it's the former change, regarding Vietnam War deserters, that caused a member of the War Resisters Support Campaign to file an Access to Information request, which in turn led to our discovering how closely the Harper Government follows our campaign. If you said they are obsessed with war resisters, you'd not be far from the truth.
Now it's been revealed that Kenney erased from the Citizenship Guide something all good and just people love about Canada: the country's policies of tolerance, inclusion and equality. Kenney opposed same-sex marriage and has made no secret of his contempt for gay rights. So he fashioned some of Canada's official documents to reflect his own views.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney blocked any reference to gay rights in a new study guide for immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship, The Canadian Press has learned.
Internal documents show an early draft of the guide contained sections noting that homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation; and that same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005.
But Mr. Kenney, who fought same-sex marriage when it was debated in Parliament, ordered those key sections removed when his office sent its comments to the department last June.
Senior department officials duly cut out the material - but made a last-ditch plea with Mr. Kenney in early August to have it reinstated.
"Recommend the re-insertion of the text boxes related to ... the decriminalization of homosexual sex/recognition of same-sex marriage," says a memorandum to Mr. Kenney from deputy minister Neil Yeates.
"Recommend the addition of 'equality rights' under list of rights. Had noted earlier that this bullet should be reinserted into the list as a means of noting the equality of all based on race, gender, sexual orientation etc ..."
In the end, however, Mr. Kenney's view trumped that of the bureaucrats. The 63-page guide, released with fanfare last November, contains no mention of gay and lesbian rights.
This is infuriating, both in substance and in symbol. Canada's guide for prospective citizens should proudly highlight equal marriage, to welcome all the gay couples who have chosen Canada as their home, and to emphasize what is best about this country. Perhaps equally important, members of the Conservative government should not be allowed to define Canada according to their own personal beliefs.
Because I am an applicant for citizenship, I have received both the old Citizenship Guide, put out by a Liberal government in 1997, and the new guide published by the Kenney-Harper gang. For some time now, I've been planning to conduct a detailed comparison of the two guides and write about it for wmtc. In order to do a thorough job, I'll have to wait until my school term ends. But it will be a priority for late April or early May. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, don't forget to tell the CIC how you feel about this revelation.
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney
613.954.1064 Ministry Office
613.992.2235 Parliamentary Office