Tobi Cohen: Kenney courted for immigration, ethnic outreach expertise

BLOG: Kenney courted for immigration, ethnic outreach expertise
Tobi Cohen 
Published: February 13, 2013, 5:42 pm
Updated: 3 days ago

OTTAWA — After more than four years as immigration and multiculturalism minister, it seems Jason Kenney has become something of an international expert.

Kenney said this week he’s most recently been approached by Washington for advice as it seeks to repair its “dysfunctional” immigration system. The so-called “minister for curry in a hurry” has also had requests from Republicans and U.S. think-tanks for advice on courting the ethnic vote.

He offered few details about exactly who is seeking his expertise, but noted he’s happy to share his knowledge.

Here’s what he had to say on the subject:

“When I was in London last October, the Prime Minister’s office at 10 Downing St. and a number of British Conservative MPs asked to meet with me about our success here and they were quite interested to learn that the Conservative Party of Canada won a high percentage of votes amongst immigrants to Canada than amongst people born in Canada.

That’s quite unusual for Conservative parties, but my point is it shouldn’t be because our view is the values of most newcomers are naturally Conservative values — a deep sense of personal responsibility, an amazing work ethic, a devotion to family, respect for tradition, intolerance of criminality, support for democratic values in our foreign policy.

My advice to any centre-right party is simply to encourage people to vote their values. You don’t need any special tactics, you need to respect people, listen to them and encourage people to respect their values . . .

I’ve received a number of different request from different people in the United States . . . I will have opportunities this year to go down to the United States, meet with different organizations, represent Canadian issues and I’m always happy to share our experience.

One of the things that people are asking me for advice on out of Washington is immigration policy because their system has been dysfunctional for many years and I’m also happy to offer Canada’s positive experience about the selection of economic immigrants.”

In recent weeks, one Canadian immigration policy gaining attention in the U.S. is the new start-up visa for entrepreneurs.

Starting April 1, Canada will offer immediate permanent residency to qualifying entrepreneurs and Kenney has vowed to head to Silicon Valley personally to poach foreign high-tech up-and-comers.

A similar start-up visa for entrepreneurs was introduced in the U.S. nearly two years ago but has been stalled in Congress and supporters are taking notice of what Canada’s up to. In fact, days after Kenney’s announcement, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his support for the idea in a speech on immigration policy.

tcohen@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/tobicohen

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