Community leaders are describing Kenney’s resurfaced comments as “vulgar,” “racist” and “offensive on very many levels”
Jason Kenney, leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party, is under fire for a newly resurfaced video in which he condemned wealthy “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants” who fund initiatives providing “condoms and birth control pills and abortion clinics” to people in the developing world.
The video, filmed at a Catholic home school conference in the early 2000s, shows the then-Canadian Alliance MP telling a room full of social conservatives these public health initiatives are an effort to “remove the moral code” in developing countries and replace it with a “libertine worldview.”
Standing behind a podium adorned with an image of the Virgin Mary, Kenney railed against foreign foundations – including the “Rockefeller Foundation” and the “Ford Foundation” – for backing birth control initiatives around the world.
“Almost all of these foundations are the progeny, if you will, of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants,” asserted Kenney, a self-described “former WASP” who later converted to Roman Catholicism during his college days.
Kenney claimed birth control initiatives in the developing world are motivated by a “perverse notion of noblesse oblige towards people in the developing world.”
“You have this perverse noblesse oblige, this condescending, patronizing attitude towards – let me say it frankly – those brown people in the rest of the world.”
The “wealthy society elites” who fund birth control initiatives, Kenney continued, view people in the developing world as “uneducated, basically savages.”
“They think that they’re committing an act of charity to go into these countries and to remove the moral codes and to replace them with condoms and birth control pills and abortion clinics.”
Kenney’s statements on birth control and international aid elicited strong reactions from community leaders and experts alike.
Farah Ali, Chair of the Somali Canadian Society of Calgary, described Kenney’s comments as “vulgar,” “arrogant” and “racist.”
“I watched the clip a couple times, it’s shocking,” Ali told PressProgress.
“It’s racist to the folks mentioned in the video,” Ali added. “It’s terrible to hear such vulgar words towards everybody that he mentioned: the brown people, the Muslims and the Christians.”
Kenney’s ideas about birth control in the developing world are also “offensive on very many levels,” said Kathy Dawson, a board member with Alberta Pro-Choice.
“Voluntary family planning resources offered by professional medical non-government organizations is part of necessary health care,” Dawson told PressProgress.
“People in other countries are perfectly able to decide for themselves whether or not these services fit within their beliefs,” Dawson noted, adding “it is condescending of Kenney to suggest otherwise.”
Women and gender studies professor Glenda Bonifacio, an affiliate with the University of Lethbridge’s Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy, told PressProgress that Kenney’s statements are “an insult to more than half of the people in the world that need access to those reproductive health services.”
“To hear such base and derogatory juxtaposition between the givers of such education and the recipients of such aid is anomalous,” Bonifiacio said.
Guy Thompson, a professor with a focus in 20th century African history at the University of Alberta, said that although relationships between international aid agencies and indigenous peoples are at times “problematic,” Kenney’s statements are more aligned with attacks by “US Republicans” on women’s reproductive rights
“His main targets in that are birth control advocates and agencies that fund abortion services,” Thompson told PressProgress, adding that Kenney’s rhetoric is a “way to pander to evangelicals and extreme social conservatives.”
“It falls more in line with the recent revelations about the anti-abortion candidates.”
UCP officials did not respond to a request for comment from PressProgress.