According to a column by Heather Mallick on the website for The Toronto Star for Friday September 28, Jason Kenney, Canada’s Immigration Minister, is to be awarded an honorary doctorate in early November. The article states the University of Haifa will present Mr Kenney with an honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree in a special ceremony at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel on the fourth of November. To quote from the article, this degree is being presented “‘in appreciation of his revered leadership’ as immigration minister, among other things.” I doubt strongly there is a single member in any legislative assembly in Canada, from the feds on down to town hall, to whom the adjective “revered” could be applied. “Reviled” perhaps, but certainly not “revered”.
And if that adjective could be applied to a politician, Jason Kenney’s name wouldn’t even make my list of candidates for the description. There have been many times he’s been less than stellar in his job. Jason Kenney is the person who, while holding the Immigration portfolio in a previous Harper government, ordered (unsuccessfully) all references to the fact same-sex marriage is legal in Canada, and any other references to the legal protections offered gays and lesbians removed from the Newcomers to Canada handbook. The article states Kenney graduated from a Catholic high school in some small town in Saskatchewan, then dropped out of university. From some of his decisions and actions, it appears to me he lets his religious views determine how he votes rather than follow the government line on many occasions.. Last week for example, a backbencher tried to reopen the abortion debate through the back door by trying to introduce a motion to discuss when life begins. (I have my views on this and I’m sure you have yours, but this is not the forum to discuss them). During the election campaign, Stephen Harper, the party leader, promised not to reopen that debate – and amazingly it’s one promise he’s kept – and most of his caucus followed his lead and voted down the motion. When questioned on some of his actions, his usual response is to try to bluster his way out of it. In her column, Ms Mallick called Jason Kenney “more bully than intellectual” and she’s right.
Giving a man like this such an honorary degree does not elevate the man. It merely cheapens the honour.