People who received emails from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's MP office are asking how Kenney or his staff knew about the recipients' sexual orientation or interest in lesbian and gay issues. (Blair Gable/Reuters)
An email praising the federal government's handling of gay and lesbian refugees from Iran has many Canadians asking how the government zeroed in on their sexual identity or interest in LGBT issues.
The message, which came from the office of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, was largely sent to members of Canada's lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered communities.
The story quickly became one of the most commented upon on CBCNews.ca. Hundreds of CBC readers debated the appropriateness of the email, and whether private information about Canadians should be used for partisan purposes.
Several commenters were worried that the government keeps lists grouping Canadians by their interest in sensitive issues.
- "If I sign a petition and a copy of that petition ends up in a minister's office, I expect him/her to address the concerns in the petition and to gain some awareness of how many people are interested in that specific situation. I don't expect the minister to use the petition as an opportunity to get access to my personal e-mail address so he can promote his/her own agenda." - squirrelCarol
- "If they do indeed have a 'list' of supposed homosexuals, it raises many, many privacy concerns. What other reason is there to keep a list, other than to treat groups differently?" - EastCoaster991
- "What is so bad? A cabinet minister is profiling citizens, then using public resources to enter their private worlds for personal political gain. That is what is so bad." - SmoothJohn
- "The [conservative government] fought tooth and nail to protect the privacy of gun owners - everyone else -- meh." - Shawn D.
- "You have to appreciate the irony - the most secretive government in Canadian history has no respect for the privacy of other people.
- "I bet every single person who received that e-mail and now every single person who has read this article will think twice about signing a petition, writing their MP, or even giving their e-mail for anything onine. That is how the fear wins. Don't give in, don't accept such behaviour from the people who are supposed to be working for us." - engnlady
But other commenters argued that the outrage has more to do with partisan distrust of the government than any wrongdoing on Kenney's part.
am surprised that so many people are already condemning the
conservative government This story is brand new, it is still very vague
and there are many more facts that need to come out. I would withhold
any accusations until we find out how the list was compiled." - N.B.S.
- "So, what is so bad about this message? Sounds like a response to concerns over how LGBT are treated elsewhere. Why all the paranoia? If I signed an online petition or sent an email expressing my concern over a subject, I would be happy to see that it had been addressed, and impressed that I was treated to a response. Some people are just too whiney." - Fayeted
- "I am not "creeped out" about this issue: I received the email in question and realized that I did because they were responding to the online petition I had signed which had automatically generated the email to the government." - TorontoSci
- "This is being over-sensationalized." - NB_Lisa
- "I do not understand how one can conclude that Mr. Kenney "targeted" communicating to the gay community. He simply responded to a group of people who communicated to him on a certain subject since he thought the information would be of interest to them." - rzwhite
- "Yet these same people aren't concerned when they get emails from companies they have made recent purchases from? Marketing companies can target any sector of the community just based on your online habits...I did not think this was new." - brendanH
There were also a few people who tried to shift the conversation back to the substance of the letter, and how it could have been more widely circulated without ruffling feathers.
- "While the message of the letter is important, I, too, am concerned that some members of the GLBT community were targeted with this e-mail. The subject of the e-mail is of interest to most in the community and a more appropriate way to convey the message and seek feedback would be to publish it as an open letter in the various Canadian GLBT newspapers, news websites, etc. I would also say that the topic is of interest to many Canadians, and perhaps the letter could also have been published via mainstream media." - Littlegoose
Please feel free to comment on or challenge any of these points and continue the conversation below.
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