Fighting Racism in Kenney’s Alberta

Sometimes it pays to sit through a 53 minute 42 second Kenney press conference because something unexpected will happen at the very end. In this case it happened at the 46:24 mark.

Last week in the wake of the horrific attack on the Afzaal family in London, premier Kenney and justice minister Madu held a press conference at the Al-Rashid Mosque to announce three anti-racism measures. These were:

  • The appointment of a community liaison to connect with minority groups to provide the government “with a range of perspectives and expertise on how [it] can tackle hate-motivated crimes and incidents,”
  • The creation of a Hate Crimes Coordination Unit to work with law enforcement to improve crime mitigation efforts and facilitate training, intelligence gathering and investigation.
  • The implementation of a security infrastructure program to provide funding for security training and facility upgrades for groups that are targets of hate crimes.

The premier characterized these initiatives as “concrete actions” to keep Albertans safe.

Leaving aside the fact that there’s nothing new here (in 2019 Notley’s government created a special unit to fight hate crimes and provided millions to train grassroots groups fighting racism and the feds have provided funding for security infrastructure since 2007) none of these measures address the real problem: how to prevent racism from arising in the first place.

Press conference at Al-Rashid Mosque


Nevertheless, some reporters asked Kenney for his thoughts on how to attack the root cause of hatred in Alberta.    

Kenney said he’d reflected on this question in the 15 years he’d been the federal minister for multiculturalism and immigration. He concluded “the single most powerful weapon against hatred is simply relationships.”  We can have all sorts of government programs but “hatred comes from the heart. The most effective way of changing someone’s heart from hatred to respect to love is through relationships…”   

This is a jarring statement from the man who as a federal cabinet minister promoted the barbaric cultural practices hot line and banned Muslim women from wearing face coverings at citizenship ceremonies.

Later a reporter asked the question again, this time it was directed to Aumer Assaf, spokesperson for the Canadian Islamic Centre.

Kenney responded (under the mistaken impression the question was meant for him) saying people don’t need government programs or government funding to get rid of racism. “It’s got to come organically, naturally from the community.” Government can set the tone but the informal outreach has to come from the community which is why he asked his MLAs to check in with Muslims in their constituencies.   

When the reporter clarified the question was intended for Mr Assaf, Mr Assaf said while he agreed that relationships are very important, “I will challenge the notion that it’s organic.”

Mr Assaf described being a schoolboy and learning that Canada was a mosaic where everyone was equal under the law. He characterized Canada as an exceptional country which has its blemishes but is moving towards goodness, and said the way to move towards goodness is by “trusting one another” and by getting “a really good education at a very young age.”


Which brings us back to the idea of concrete action.  

Last week the Kenney government released the recommendations of the anti-hate crime advisory council (another initiative started by the Notley government).

The advisory council calls for the decolonialization of education and the development of a curriculum with a focus on anti-Indigenous racism, systemic racism, and other forms of discrimination which disrespects the human rights of BIPOC Canadians.

If Kenney truly wants to take concrete action he should scrap the UCP curriculum review and re-examine the curriculum bearing in mind the advisory council’s recommendations and Mr Assaf’s observation that racism can be rooted out by a really good education at a very young age.    

Or Mr Kenney can spin around and around in the vain hope that by some miracle hatred will turn to respect and even love while religious minorities apply for funding to turn their places of worship into fortresses to protect themselves against those who reject their right to exist.

This entry was posted in Crime and Justice, Culture, Education, Law, Politics and Government, Terrorism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Fighting Racism in Kenney’s Alberta

  1. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. I wouldn’t take the UCP’s anti racism initiatives very seriously. When the UCP had Christian Champion and Paul Bunner in their party, and they were saying very controversial and unfounded things, such as Christian Champion calling the residential schools matter in Canada a “bogus genocide”, what did the UCP really do about them? I believe they left on their own. Also, there is Grant Hunter, a UCP MLA, who has made very inappropriate statements, and got them published in newspapers in Alberta. He was mentioning Aryan stock. Why is he still a UCP MLA? I shall leave everyone with a fitting song, recorded in 1965, by The Yardbirds. Mr. You’re A Better Man Than I. It was written by Brian Hugg and Mike Hugg. Mike Hugg was the drummer in Manfred Mann, in the 1960s. This song features Jeff Beck on lead guitar. Jeff Beck will be 77 on June 24. Jeff Beck replaced Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds. Jimmy Page joined the Yardbirds later on, as their last lead guitarist, before the band broke up in July of 1968, and Jimmy Page formed Led Zeppelin, later that year.

  2. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Since I can only post one link at a time, I shall also share this. It is Steve Winwood and Carlos Santana, live in Montreux, in 2004. Here they cover a Timmy Thomas composition, (which he recorded in the early 1970s), Why Can’t We Live Together. It is a very fitting song for the times we live in.

    • Dwayne, you absolutely nailed it with your comment that it’s hard to take Kenney’s comments seriously given the people he appoints to important positions and his past comments on the topic. Here he is telling us about the good things he did when he was minister of multiculturalism and immigration while at the same time he’s exacerbating the problem of hatred by passing policies that discriminate against Muslims in the most hateful way. It boggles the mind.
      Thanks for the music clips. I enjoyed them.

  3. Carlos says:

    ‘This is a jarring statement from the man who as a federal cabinet minister promoted the barbaric cultural practices hot line and banned Muslim women from wearing face coverings at citizenship ceremonies.’

    This says it all and talking about relationships from a man that has fought and bullied others in everything he does is pathetic.
    I just wished this moron would go away and let us run our province. There is no fixing with this guy, he just has to go and join his friend Maxime Bernier in prison.

    • Carlos, it’s as if Kenney is trying to reinvent himself. He thinks if he simply denies what we can see with our own eyes we’ll believe he’s the wonderful person he says he is.
      By the way he’s sweetened the incentive to get vaccinated. He’s offering 40 travel-related prizes provided by WestJet and Air Canada for those who get their first and second doses before Aug 24. What will it take for Albertans to just do the right thing without having to be bribed into doing it.

  4. Carlos says:

    This province is such a good economic position and the UCP is so fiscal responsible so let us have a 3 million dollar lottery.
    Jameson Whiskey someone?
    WOW just Brilliant decision after brilliant decision non-stop what a genius when it comes to our money.

  5. ema says:

    Meanwhile Tim Uppal, the absentee divisive MP for the Mill Woods area in Edmonton, who domiciles 100% in Ottawa with his family, is now attempting to absolve himself from being instrumental in attempting to ban the niqab, while he served as Minister of State for Multiculturalism under Harper. As a visible minority and POC he took his own sweet time in coming to this new conclusion. Having defeated Amarjeet Sohi in the 2019 federal election, does he really think this gives him a pass?? UGH!

    • Carlos says:

      Another Opportunist – why is it that Conservatives have so many of these?

    • Excellent point ema. Uppal said the London killings were the last straw. You’d think the Quebec mosque shooting that left 6 dead and 5 seriously injured would have been enough. Or the stabbing of the Muslim man at the Toronto mosque or the attacks on Muslim women all across the country, or, or, or…but as Carlos says, eventually even staunch conservatives realize public opinion is moving against them and if they don’t speak up they’ll risk losing votes. It’s the epitome of hypocrisy.

  6. I may have mentioned this before, Kenney’s War Room writes:
    “Deanna Burgart is somewhat of an anomaly: She’s an Indigenous woman, a pipeline expert, an engineer …”
    It does not occur to them that she is an anomaly because Alberta is a very racist, sexist place. Demographically there should be over 1000 Indigenous women engineers.

  7. Carlos says:

    WOW that is all I can say. Jason Kenney denies he was ever against the Hijab
    How can one define liar anymore? With the proof in written form and he denies it.
    It is a different world we are living right now and I can see only one solution to change it to reality
    This is beyond any words we have in our dictionaries to describe what this guy is.

    • Carlos says:

      This guy is not a LIAR he suffers from psychopathy and we should have laws to get him to treatment as soon as possible. This is unacceptable.

      • Carlos and Dwayne, I’m utterly mystified by this behavior. If Kenney truly believes he did not say these horrible things, let alone enact these hateful policies then he really does have a deep psychological problem and is mentally unfit to govern.
        I don’t know any die-hard UCPers but I’d love to hear how they explain Kenney’s behavior. Maybe they’re like the Trumpites who continue to love their man regardless of all his lies. Bizarre.

      • Carlos says:

        Susan – What else can it be other than mental?
        Like Trump his facts are whatever he decides it is more convenient to say for his personal gain. The guy is absolutely nuts and has no morals or ethics of any kind.
        I am surprised that journalists and other people with more reach than regular people say nothing. Are we waiting for more damage before we start calling out what this really is?
        In the Legislature no one can call him a pathological liar, outside it seems no one has the guts to so are we supposed to all just hide from it?
        I am sorry I will not do that and as far as I am concerned Jason Kenney is a liar and a sociopath.

    • Dwayne says:

      Carlos: Very true. We can only hope the UCP are gone in 2023.

  8. jerrymacgp says:

    Racism is learned at home. A person with racist parents is likely to grow up racist. And Alberta has many workplaces where overt, outspoken racism is common & tolerated; specifically oil & gas, which is the UCP’s holiest of holies.

    Then we have political policies & positions that give aid & comfort to racism, from Stephen Harper’s “old-stock Canadians” & the HarperCons’ 2015 “barbaric cultural practices hotline” … to Jacques Parizeau’s 1995 “l’argent et la vote ethnique” — “money & the ethnic vote”, for those whose French is even rustier than mine … to Quebec’s Bill 21, under which even prominent Canadian federal politicians — like Jagmeet Singh & Navdeep Bains, among others — would be barred from employment in Quebec’s public sector. Deny it all you want, but there’s a clear line to be drawn from Bill 21 to Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

    Of course, our federal leaders’ cowardice on Bill 21 is a clear indication that racism is actually just to be nodded and winked at, not truly challenged.

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