Bruce Cheadle and Stephanie Levitz
The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Department of Citizenship and Immigration spent almost $750,000 monitoring ethnic media over the past three years, including assessments of election campaign events and “perceptions” of minister Jason Kenney.
A series of contracts from March 2009 through May 2012 cost taxpayers $745,050, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information law.
Those contracts state they were for work “monitoring key words and issues related to the department’s mandate.”
But the more than 7,000 pages of documents reveal the media monitoring went well beyond public policy issues related to citizenship and immigration.
“A series of interviews and appearances by minister Kenney and his representatives were strong contributors to the upswing in the ministerial image,” says a report from May 5, 2010, under a pie graph titled “Minister Overall Perception.”
The ministerial perception charts were weekly fixtures in the lengthy media monitoring reports in the spring of 2010, when the minority Conservatives were on a constant election footing.
And while the personal Kenney pie charts vanished after the spring election window closed that year, and were not reprised, the focus of the daily media monitoring remained profoundly political.