Jason Kenney deletes tweet commenting on refugee boy's 'unaccented English'

Conservative candidate Jason Kenney deleted a tweet Monday in which he commented on an 11-year-old Iraqi refugee boy's "perfect, unaccented English."

Tweet was one of many meant to showcase his meetings with refugees

Jason Kenney says he deleted a tweet because he didn't want a refugee boy to become the subject of controversy. (Alexandre Boulerice/Twitter Darren Pittman/Canadian Press)

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. 

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."


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