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Thursday, May 24, 2012

That Conrad Black thing

It's good to be convicted criminal Conrad Black
Many around the world have probably never heard of Conrad Black, Lord of Crossharbour. He is a former Canadian citizen who was convicted in the US of committing fraud and obstruction of justice. For his crime, he served 42 months in a US Federal prison. He was recently allowed entry into Canada on a Temporary Resident's visa for one year.

Two points may require some background in understanding the ire that Black has caused immigration watchers in Canada. First off, in order to become Lord Black of the British peerage, Black was required to renounce his Canadian citizenship. Whether this was done entirely of his free will is a matter of debate. History tells us that the Chretien administration forced Black's hand on this matter. Still - he gave it up in order to obtain his appointment to the House of Lords. He therefore gave up all his rights as a Canadian citizen (residency included).

Secondly, there is the matter of allowing people to enter Canada who have been convicted of "serious criminality". In short, crimes committed in other countries that, if committed in Canada could include a maximum sentance of at least 10 years or more make an individual inadmissible. If a person is not allowed into the country for this reason, they are required to wait 5-years after the expiration of their sentance and any conditional parole, and apply for rehabilitation. They are only allowed entry after their rehabilitation has been approved. The only other special circumstance that would allow a person into the country is the granting of a Temporary Residence permit through a so-called "Minister's Permit" based on hardship or compassionate grounds.

Black was provided a Temporary Residence permit BEFORE he left jail.

Clearly, critics have some reason here to raise their eyebrows. Black has never admitted his guilt or responsibility for his crimes - clearly he is not rehabilitated on that basis. Virtually no time had passed from his release to prove his acts were not in his character either (another method of proving rehabilitation). Still, friends in high places get results. Black is certainly well connected in Canada from running one of the nation's largest media empires at one time.

But don't expect this level of justice and compassion if you aren't Conrad Black. It's not coming. The average applicant for Criminal Rehabilitation can expect a wait of years to have their case reviewed. In 2010, of all applications in the queue, only 880 were succcessful.

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