Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jason Kenney's Blast Email to Gay Canadians

To my mind there is nothing wrong here - Kenney kept a list of people who wrote to him on Gay refugee issues and sent a note to those on that list. The problem was the apparent autosending of names, without notice, from the petition. And that's not Kenney's fault:


OTTAWA — For many who received an email from Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney about gay refugees on Friday, the message raised one important question: How did he know I'm gay?

The bulk email sent from Kenney's MP's office to thousands was titled "LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Refugees in Iran" and began with the salutation, "Friend."

It proceeded to trumpet steps taken by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and the Conservative government to protect the rights of gay and lesbian refugees, especially those coming from Iran.

Among the recipients was Meredith Richmond of Peterborough, Ont., who, to her knowledge, had never had any contact with Kenney's office before. She had no idea how Kenney got her personal Gmail address and seemed to know about her sexual orientation.

"It felt really targeted at me," she said. "I'm not a supporter of the Conservatives."

In fact, Richmond and several of her friends who received the same email had become data points in the Conservative party's ongoing drive to identify and reach out to minority and special-interest groups, an effort pioneered by Kenney to great success in the last election.

This email was sent in response to individuals who have communicated with our office about gay refugee issues

While Richmond had never directly emailed Kenney's office, she was one of nearly 10,000 people who electronically signed a 2011 online petition supporting a gay artist from Nicaragua, who was then facing deportation.

Alvaro Orozco had been turned down for refugee status because he couldn't prove he was gay but was eventually given permanent resident status in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Toronto community organizer and former NDP candidate Michael Erickson posted the petition on the website change.org.

Whenever someone "signed" the petition, the site automatically sent a form letter by email to Kenney's office with the signatory's reply email address.

It appears those thousands of messages were harvested by the email program in Kenney's office and saved for later use.

Kenney's press secretary says only people who contacted the office received the email on refugees.

"This email was sent in response to individuals who have communicated with our office about gay refugee issues," said Alexis Pavlich in an email.


lungta said...

I concur
A petition deserves a response
Getting one should give this much outrage
Doesn't everyone have a "reply all" button?

Anonymous said...

The issue is the fact that the Conservatives are profiling Canadians. Where do they store this data? In the infamous CIMS database? Who has access to this database and is the database secure? What other information about Canadians is being captured; how and why? Are the privacy rights of Canadians being respected?

These questions would apply to all political parties. But the Conservatives seem especially keen on profiling Canadians

The Rat said...

What is so bad about "profiling"? If I send an email to a minister on a certain topic it simply makes good political sense and makes for good customer service to remember what topic I was interested in. If you think the Conservatives are profiling you maybe you should ask why all those ads pop up for shoes minutes after you Google "shoes". And I hope you don't use airmiles or any other "rewards" cards.

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