Immigration Minister Jason Kenney upsets Canada’s basket weavers

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

You know that old saying that goes: you can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

Well, that's definitely a truism in politics.

And, there's no better example of that than this story in the Toronto Star, about a disgruntled basket weaver from Prince Edward Island.

On Monday, immigration minister Jason Kenney launched an immigration plan to attract 3,000 skilled tradespeople to our labour-deprived industrial sectors.

During a post-announcement media tour, Kenney told CBC News that immigration policies of the past have ignored highly trained workers.

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"It was easier to get your permanent residency in Canada if you had a master's degree in basket-weaving than if you had 20 years experience as a welder," he said, according to the Star.

"We need the welders. We need these guys who work with their hands."

Makes sense, right?

The Toronto Star, found maybe the only person it didn't make sense to.

"Ann McRae McIsaac, of the Basket Weavers of P.E.I. Cooperative, said downplaying the importance of craftspeople shows narrow-mindedness.

"Basket-weaving is the oldest known arts around. There's a lot of history with it and a lot of Canadian history associated with basket-weaving," she said.

McIsaac specializes in making ash-split baskets, a type of traditional basket that was used for potato-picking.

"We work with our hands and what we do as artists has importance too in this country," she said."

In response to the article, Kenney tweeted this:

Yahoo! Canada News offered Minister Kenney an opportunity to, ahem, apologize to Canada's basket weavers.

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His office ignored our email.