Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Maybe Jason Kenney and his aide should testify?

Some troubling reports emerging from this morning's Ruby Dhalla/nanny parliamentary committee hearings surrounding Conservative minister Jason Kenney and his communications aide, Alykhan Velshi.

Kenney, you'll recall, insists he knew nothing about the nanny's allegations about Dhalla in advance, and insists he has no desire to politicize this affair. That hasn't stopped Kenney and Velshi, of course, from trying to do just that.

Take this report this morning from Toronto Star reporter Susan Delacourt:

At the immigration committee this morning, I was a bit surprised to see the Immigration Minister's assistant, Alykhan Velshi, handing out some documents to reporters. It was three pages, stapled together -- excerpts from this material, available on The Star's website. The title: "Was Ruby Dhalla involved in the hiring of the caregivers?"

What surprised me most was the active participation of the minister's office in a committee hearing. Perhaps I'm naive, but I believed Mr. Kenney when he said he wasn't allowed to get personally involved in any immigration case. That sure looked like personal involvement to me
Why was Velshi even at this hearing? Kenney wasn't testifying. Does he just randomly hang-out at committee meetings, passing out material to reporters regarding matters his boss supposedly doesn't want to politicize? Was he there at Kenney's behest, or was he freelancing?

Maclean's blogger Aaron Wherry also noted the incident:
In the audience sat half a dozen reporters, a smattering of spectators and one aide to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.


The aide from Kenney’s office had been handing around a bit of amateur handwriting analysis based on various documents related to the case.
Of course, this isn't the first time Velshi has been feeding paperwork to the press to spin this story in a Conservative-friendly way. Just as news of the allegations broke, supposedly totally surprising Kenney and his Conservative cohorts (although, as Impolitical notes, Jason has answered questions about his prior knowledge very carefully), Velshi was johnny on the spot with stacks of on-topic material to feed a hungry press corps:
In the House of Commons on Tuesday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he couldn't comment on specific allegations nor would he deign to "politicize the complaints process."

But his assistant, Alykhan Velshi, later circulated to reporters a press release from the Independent Workers Association that called on Ontario's attorney general to investigate Dhalla.
Oh yeah, about that whole not politicizing this thing...
“This is a Liberal cover-up..." said Alykhan Velshi, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
OK then, great work Alykhan.

And speaking of Kenney, BigCityLib raises some interesting questions about just how Kenney can be claiming to have had no prior knowledge of the nanny's allegations when he had a lenghtly meeting with Pura Velasco, organizer of Caregiver Support Services and a chief advocate for the Dhalla nannies, before the story broke in the Star.

The meeting with Kenney was a day after Velasco and one of the Dhalla caregivers told their story to Ontario provincial ministers Peter Fonseca and Kathleen Wynne, and was part of a roundtable on caregiver issues.

Velasco is in the pink scarf, next to Jason Kenney. You'll also recognize junior Conservative minister Peter Kent.

Here's another shot from the meeting.

I find it a tad hard to believe that, given the events of the previous day, and given the topic of this meeting, the shocking Dhalla allegations weren't raised and brought to Kenney's attention, or at least to the attention of one of his aides.

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Kirbycairo said...

Yes indeed. No one is more ready to 'politicize' anything if there is a chance for personal benefit than Kenny. The man is the surely the most offensive minister of anything since the Rona Ambrose fiasco.

Ken S from Ramara said...

Kenney must have been laughing, on the inside at the Liberal Convention, knowing the bombshell he was going to unleash days later!

Deb Prothero said...

Thanks for pulling all those pieces together, Jeff. Sure looks like this has been a set-up. Isn't that where Parm Gill has been trying to get elected? Didn't he also just go to India with Kenney?

Methinks, it's all just a little too cozy.

Bailey said...

That seems like a very long and strange wiki entry for Alykhan Velshi.

And he has some interesting views on the world and on the UN.