One of the shiniest stars in Canada’s conservative constellation hits the campaign trail this weekend in support of party leader Andrew Scheer.
“Andrew Scheer has been a close personal friend of mine for 20 years,” Kenney said Friday at an event in the riding of Nepean.
“And I just want to go out and vouch for him as a man of integrity.”
Kenney will travel from Ottawa to the Greater Toronto Area, where he says he’ll campaign with people who are long-time personal friends.
It’s in the so-called “905,” the suburban belt around Toronto labelled for its area code, where the former federal cabinet minister was instrumental in growing the party’s electoral base.
His efforts particularly in ethnic communities are often cited as a reason the Conservatives became a politically competitive force in the highly diverse ridings, and for helping them win their first — and only — majority government in 2011.
One of the ridings they won that year was Willowdale, where visible minorities are 67 per cent of the population. It had been a Liberal stronghold for years but the Conservatives managed to eke out a win.
READ MORE: Canada election — Willowdale
The Conservative reputation in many diverse ridings took a hit in 2015, with controversial promises like the “barbaric cultural practices” hotline, a debate over face coverings and concerns over refugee policy.
The Tories lost Willowdale and several others like it, and hope to regain them this time around. Willowdale will be one of Kenney’s stops on his Ontario tour this weekend.
Kenney said he still sees alignment between the values of many new Canadians and the Conservatives.
“Many new Canadians come from broken regimes where there is abuse of authority, they want democratic values and respect for families and law and order, which Mr. Scheer is talking about today,” he said.
Scheer’s announcement Friday was on gun crime, promising to get Canada’s border agency to do more to try to stop illegal guns from crossing into Canada from the United States.
Kenney was among the people whose names were immediately floated to lead the party after it lost government in 2015 and then-leader Stephen Harper stepped down.
But he decided to enter provincial politics instead, first uniting the conservative movement in Alberta and then running and winning the premier’s job earlier this year.
He’s rare among the country’s conservative leaders for being willing to publicly go to bat for his federal political brother; other conservatives, such as Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, have declined to issue an endorsement.
Kenney said he didn’t want to weigh in on those issues, saying while he is campaigning to support Scheer personally, he’s also there representing Alberta.
“I’m just here as a leader of the third-largest economy in Canada to say we desperately need a new federal government.”