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Resisting Kenney’s cuts to refugee health

Ian Beeching

August 23, 2012

“I believe that this tactic of trying to intimidate an immigration critic into silence, by trying to get him sanctioned professionally, is an abuse of office,” Toronto lawyer Guidy Mamann recently told the Globe and Mail.

Mamann had the nerve to publicly suggest that allowing Conrad Black—the man who renounced his Canadian citizenship so he could assume the mantle of Britain’s “Lord Black of Crossharbour,” and who was convicted of fraud and served two prison terms in the US—to return to Canada stank of Tory political interference.


“The idea that the minister didn’t wink or nod in favour of this thing is impossible to imagine.”


These criticisms were directed at Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, and his office. Kenney bristled at any such suggestion, repeating his mantra that he would never, ever interfere in the decision making of the “highly trained professionals” in his ministry.


Kasra Nejatian, one of Kenney’s aides, initiated a complaint against Mr. Mamann with the Law Society of Upper Canada for “implying corruption or malfeasance by our office in our dealing with matters related to Conrad Black.” The Law Society has found Mamann innocent of any wrongdoing.


It is inconceivable that any staffer would launch such a complaint without Kenney’s knowledge, blessing or even urging. And I believe, like Mr. Mamann, that it is inconceivable that Kenney and his office didn’t meddle in the decision to allow Black to return to Canada.


Kenney’s past performance supports this opinion.



Minister of censorship and deportation


Back in 2010, the Immigration Ministry rewrote the Citizenship manual for newcomers to Canada. Prominent references to gay rights and same-sex marriage were removed from the previous version.


It was discovered that the “highly trained professionals” who wrote the first draft had included such references. Kenney, who has staunchly opposed extending gay rights throughout his career, personally overruled the objections of his writers and ordered all these references deleted.


“We can’t mention every legal decision, every policy of the government of Canada,” he said at the time.


Public outrage forced Kenney to do something he truly hates: he backtracked and grudgingly restored the information.


In 2009, British anti-war MP George Galloway was barred from entering Canada, where he had visited and toured before. Immigration officials informed him he would not be admitted because he was a “security threat.”


Galloway is a long-time supporter of Palestinian rights. Kenney is an unapologetic cheerleader for Israel’s Zionist policies.


At the time Kenney denied having anything to do with the decision by the “highly trained professionals” at the Canadian Border Services Agency. Unfortunately for Kenney, a subsequent investigation turned up an email sent by Kenny’s top aide, Alykhan Velshi, to officials at Canada’s embassy in London, advising them of plans to ban the MP.


In 2010 a federal court judge overturned the ban on Galloway, citing interference from Kenney’s office and evidence that Velshi had directed the CBSA decision. Judge Richard Mosley wrote that Kenney’s office had used “a flawed and overreaching interpretation of the standards under Canadian law for labelling someone as engaging in terrorism or being a member of a terrorist organization.”


A civil lawsuit by Galloway against Kenney and Velshi is before the courts.


With that track record it is hard to doubt that Kenney and his office instructed his underlings to make a rare exception and grant permission for convicted felon, British citizen and right-wing blowhard Conrad Black to enter and reside in Canada.


Conrad Black vs Gary Freeman


Lawyer Mamann wasn’t the only one to question the Black decision. NDP leader Thomas Mulclair rose in parliament to ask why Black was admitted and Gary Freeman was denied entry. Freeman is a black man who had fled the US to escape violence and trumped up charges of shooting a police officer.


Despite being in Canada without legal sanction, Freeman spent over 30 years building a life, marrying a supportive partner and raising children. He was hard working and respected by those who knew and worked with him.


Arrested and held in pre-extradition custody in Canada for almost four years, Freeman voluntarily returned to the US in 2008. He was convicted of aggravated battery and given 30 days in jail and two years probation—a far less serious crime and sentence than Black.


When Mulclair exposed the Tory hypocrisy of admitting Black but denying Freeman, Jason Kenney responded by calling Freeman a “cop killer.” This was entirely a lie, and Kenney was subsequently forced to apologize.


Gary Freeman has been denied admission on the grounds that he is a threat to security because of an alleged past membership in the Black Panthers Party. The Black Panthers were never considered a “terrorist” organization. Even so, Access to Information Requests show that CSIS has informed Kenney’s ministry that there is no evidence Freeman had any connection to the BPP. When one is accused of being a security threat there is no appeal.


Conrad Black, besides being a felon, destroyed the lives of countless workers as a ruthless CEO. He once gleefully described laying off workers as “drowning the kittens.” In contrast, Gary Freeman worked hard and built a decent life. Who would you rather have as a neighbour?


I believe that Kenney abused his office to allow Black in. I believe he abused his office trying to intimidate Guidy Mamann for daring to speak out. I believe he abused his office to ban George Galloway, by applying the term “security threat” haphazardly. And I believe that Kenney continues to abuse his office in the same way by denying Gary Freeman his return.


That makes Jason Kenney a serial abuser.


You will read more about Gary Freeman and his case in coming issues. Meanwhile you can find out how you can support Gary at

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