Conservative candidate Jason Kenney deleted a tweet Monday in which he commented on an 11-year-old Iraqi refugee boy's "perfect, unaccented English."
The tweet was one of many meant to showcase the former immigration minister's meetings with refugees. The young refugee, Xavier, arrived from Syria last year, according to the deleted tweet, which can be seen below.
The screenshot was posted by Alexandre Boulerice, the New Democratic Party candidate for Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie in Montreal. Many online objected to the phrase "unaccented English."
Kenney explained why he deleted the tweet to a Twitter user who asked, "So, anyone with an accent isn't a real Canadian?"
"I simply found it remarkable that a youngster who did not speak a word of English a year ago has learned so quickly that he sounds like he grew up in Canada," he wrote in a collection of tweets responding to objections. "I meant it as a harmless observation about how quickly a refugee child has taken to living in Canada."
He added that he deleted the tweet because he didn't want the boy to become the subject of controversy.
Kenney posted tweets of his meetings with several other groups of recent refugees, including the Kreshat family and the Shamoun family.
1/ Met the Kreshat family, who were forced to flee Mosul following ISIL's invasion last year. They arrived in CDA pic.twitter.com/Q1XCnF1ZLV— @jkenney
2/ in March, & got refugee status from the IRB in July, thanks to our reform of the asylum system:wait times for claimants used to be ~2 yrs— @jkenney
3/ Young Senta & Carlos Kreshat told me they hope to be doctors when they grow up! pic.twitter.com/nZS9MvBdww— @jkenney
Met Shamoun family,Iraqi refugees who arrived last wk, amongst ~25,000 who've come through our resettlement program pic.twitter.com/m4F2WfJiqM— @jkenney
Kenney deleted his Twitter comment about the boy four days after encountering online criticism when he said that "people like" Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi politicize the debate on whether women should be banned from wearing a niqab at citizenship ceremonies.
He later clarified that it was "completely ridiculous" to imply that he was referring to religion or ethnicity. Kenney appeared on Evan Solomon's Everything is Political radio show Friday, adding "I think I referred to politically correct liberals who were politicizing this issue."