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I'm afraid I don't have the time to elaborate much on this email I just received. I just think it's important news to share. First all the nonsense with Rev. Yearwood, now they're blocking retired colonels and former diplomats from entering Canada. What the heck is going on??? (Rhetorical question, but you can answer in comments if you have the energy for it at this point.)

I hope the press conference tomorrow will be carried live, and/or live-blogged by someone in DC.

Canada Refuses Entry to CODEPINK Cofounder Medea Benjamin and Retired Colonel Ann Wright

WASHINGTON - October 3 – Two well-respected US peace activists, CODEPINK
and Global Exchange cofounder Medea Benjamin and retired Colonel and
diplomat Ann Wright, were denied entry into Canada today (Wednesday,
October 3). The two women were headed to Toronto to discuss peace and
security issues at the invitation of the Toronto Stop the War Coalition.
At the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they were detained, questioned and
denied entry. They will hold a press conference on Thursday afternoon in
front of the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC to ask the Canadian
government to reverse its policy of barring peaceful protesters.
The women were questioned at Canadian customs about their participation
in anti-war efforts and informed that they had an FBI file indicating
they had been arrested in acts of non-violent civil disobedience.

Press Conference:
WHEN: Thursday, October 4th at 1pm

WHERE: Canadian Embassy, 501 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC

"In my case, the border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been
arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women's
Day, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by
152,000 women around the world," says Benjamin. "For this, the Canadians
labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country." "The
FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database
is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush
administration policies," says Colonel Wright, who was also Deputy US
Ambassador in four countries. "The Canadian government should certainly
not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country."
Both Wright and Benjamin plan to request their files from the FBI
through the Freedom of Information Act and demand that arrests for
peaceful, non-violent actions be expunged from international records.
"It's outrageous that Canada is turning away peacemakers protesting a
war that does not have the support of either US or Canadian citizens,"
says Benjamin. "In the past, Canada has always welcomed peace activists
with open arms. This new policy, obviously a creature of the Bush
administration, is shocking and we in the US and Canada must insist that
it be overturned. Four members of the Canadian Parliament--Peggy Nash,
Libby Davies, Paul Dewar and Peter Julian-- expressed outrage that the
peace activists were barred from Canada and vow to change this policy.

Originally posted to gypsy on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:16 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  the criminal record (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alice Venturi, cfk, Aunt Arctic

    I don't have the link, but you can't enter Canada if you have a criminal record on file.

    "The only person sure of himself is the man who wishes to leave things as they are, and he dreams of an impossibility" -George M. Wrong.

    by statsone on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:16:50 PM PDT

  •  It is actually the DHS database, not the FBI's (12+ / 0-)

    It is actually the DHS database, not the FBI's causing peace  activists being denied exit from this country, which is more problematic than the FBI address - there is a process to get one's FBI file expunged or corrected, or at least to see it, but the DHS thing is a whole 'nuther problem...

  •  Canada is getting really tough. (9+ / 0-)

    Probably retaliation for US dickishness.

    I know someone that was refused entry because of a 7-year-old DUI.

    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    by beemerr90s on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:18:36 PM PDT

  •  Convicted? (10+ / 0-)

    Were they convicted of these civil disobedience crimes for which they were arrested and denied entry to Canada?

    If not, then I have to ask what kind of legitimate system can hold an arrest against someone, when the crime hasn't been proven?

    And even if so, Canada holding such a category of crime against people, when it routinely accepts the biggest war criminals in the world like Bush and Cheney, really makes the "kinder, gentler nation" look bad. But then, they also let a fascist run their own country.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:19:39 PM PDT

    •  Cheney and Bush have diplomatic credentials. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bouwerie Boy, leftynyc, Joffan

      I think there are international laws against improperly detaining heads of state. Your logic is silly.

      Please also supply evidence that Canada has a fascist government.  I live here and have seen no signs of one yet.

      •  They're War Criminals (4+ / 0-)

        Bush and Cheney are butchers. I'm not saying Canada doesn't have laws behind these different border decisions. I'm saying that refusing a nonviolent demonstrator while accepting butchers is wrong, regardless of how the law allows it.

        The evidence of Canada's fascist is the man I'm talking about: Stephen Harper. But since you never noticed, and can't understand the border policy contradiction I've now mentioned twice, I guess I had to spell that out to you. And I'm not surprised you didn't notice Harper running your country, either.

        I lived in Canada myself. I saw the signs of fascism, like in any country with powerful corporations, but I was still surprised to see Canadians send one to the PM job. Evidently you still haven't noticed enough to be surprised yet.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:07:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nobody said they weren't war criminals. (0+ / 0-)

          But being American maybe you don't understand the principals of international law?

          I have more than noticed who's running this country. For all sorts of reasons I don't feel obliged to explain. I've been Canadian for more than half a century and do know that we don't elect a PM but we do elect a government which you apparently don't,  but I am assuming by your remark you think I am some kind of ignoramus backwoods Canuck.  Typical.

          •  Your Problem (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tony the American Mutt

            I didn't say that Canada elects its PM. Or that you're a backwoods Canuck. I said that Canadians sent Harper to the PM job. Through the parliamentary procedure, but you all sent him there nonetheless.

            Without the "backwoods Canuck" excuse, you don't really have a good reason to be inventing straw men. And you don't have to explain all the sorts of reasons you Canadians sent a fascist to your PM office - I certainly didn't ask you that, either. But I did say you did, and you disagreed, though you obviously can't really back that up.

            Oh, and you're still banging the other straw man gong about the law. Which I never denied. I just said that letting in Bush and Cheney while refusing nonviolent protesters is wrong, regardless of the law.

            As I said, I lived in Canada for years. Your inability to read my posts can't be hung on just being Canadian. You have to take some kind of responsibility for your own limitations, instead of just hanging them on someone else, or some invented logical fallacy.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:34:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What do I have to back up? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              perro amarillo, LeftofArizona

              I live here.  This is not a fascist state.  I have to give you evidence of something?

              Canadians do not elect a PM.  The government party selects the leader.  We are often stuck with a louse.

              Thank you for lecturing me on my limitations. One of those is being silly enough to engage someone so superior.

              •  Your Strawmen (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tony the American Mutt

                You're evidently incapable of keeping your mind away from the strawman fallacies you invent. I never said Canada was a fascist state. I called Harper a fascist. You disagreed, but can't back up that disagreement.

                Instead you're trying to disagree with a statement I never made, that Canada directly elects its PM. You Canadians did give the fascist's party the power to appoint him. But why bother getting into the details of why you're wrong, when you can't even stop using the lamest logical fallacies that I've already debunked.

                Since you now at least admit you're silly to engage someone with your limited capacity, I'll spare you further effort or humilation, at the expense of more free clues for you.

                Goodbye.

                "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:56:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  link for inadmissibility (2+ / 0-)

    information on the inadmissibility based on a criminal record.

    "The only person sure of himself is the man who wishes to leave things as they are, and he dreams of an impossibility" -George M. Wrong.

    by statsone on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:22:52 PM PDT

  •  sad to see people are not recommending this (13+ / 0-)

    In general, I support Code Pink.  I do have to say, however, that I don't support their tactics at Congressional hearings.  As a citizen intent on listening to the hearings that take place, I would rather be listening to the hearings than watching Code Pink activists prance around the hearing room and I don't think they are doing the organization any favors.

    I have demonstrated in front of our local Courthouse and call for Bush/Cheney to be tried as a war criminals.  I would like to see these demonstrations take place on the steps of every Courthouse in the USA.

    We can make our voices heard around the USA and the rest of the world.  It doesn't help to make fools of ourselves at Congressional hearings.

    That said, the FBI has absolutely no business putting peace activists on watch lists and preventing them from flying on airlines, let alone traveling to Canada or other Countries.  I think that the majority of the American people recognize that the Bush Administration are fascists if not down right Nazis.  The 2008 elections will be a shock to the Republicans that aren't retiring now.
    If, that is, we aren't under military law and no elections are held.

  •  Canada is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bouwerie Boy, Doodad, Joffan, HAL 9000

    a sovereign nation with relative control over their borders.  Right or wrong, irrational or not, it is their right to control who enters their country and who does not.  It might not be fair in many cases, but it is their right.

    •  It is a U.S. government database they use... (12+ / 0-)

      ...to decide admission.

      That doesn't sound so very sovereign to me!

      •  Exactly (11+ / 0-)

        This would be like the US not allowing Aung San Suu Kyi in because the Myanmar gov't tells us she's a criminal.

        Pelosi is wrong. -- Bill Moyers Journal, 7/13/07

        by gypsy on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:39:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well how the heck are they supposed to get (5+ / 0-)

        the data another way? Psychics?

        A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

        by Doodad on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:51:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well... (5+ / 0-)

          The implication of your post, as I read it, is that Canada and the US should naturally share security information. This is reasonable, but only to a point. Canada has passed so-called anti-terror legislations - think of them as Patriot Act Lite, which establishes a partnership between the RCMP and DHS and sharing of no-fly list.

          The no-fly list is particularly insidious, because it is so counter to our system of jurisprudence- travel is a right, after all.

          Canada certainly has the sovereign right to refuse admission to whomever it chooses, but the question ought to be asked: by what criteria are these choices to be made? Because it looks to me like Canada is refusing entry to a couple of outspoken peace activists, and that's an abuse of any reasonable understanding of what the anti-terror laws are purported to be for. In other words, this is just punitive.

          FWIW, Canada has a 5-year ban on foreigners with DUIs, if I remember right, and that can be petitioned to be reduced. It typically is not an indelible Mark of Cain.

          •  It looks like they just showed up and expected to (0+ / 0-)

            get in. Not a good assumption even before 911.

            A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

            by Doodad on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:07:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, maybe so. (5+ / 0-)

              Canada Customs can be fairly capricious when it comes to denying entry. In my experience, they're generally assholes who either don't know the relevant laws or willfully disregard them. I can give examples in detail.

              But the fact that they rejected a diplomat going to a peace conference... These people supposedly work for the citizens of Canada, and as a Canadian citizen I find this embarrassing.

              •  No, they work for the Government (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                marina, Aunt Arctic, dantyrant

                It supposedly works for the citizens. I know it seems unfair but that's usually the way it is.

                A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

                by Doodad on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:21:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Not a diplomat (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Canadian Reader, Aunt Arctic

                (except colloquially) - the border guards would have let them in if so.

                It sounds like the people to blame are those manipulating the US databases, not the Canadians, at this stage anyway. Eventually if the criminal database supplied by the US is shown to be stuffed with political opposition as well as real criminals, Canada would have to find another screening method, but I don't know what it would be.

                Recd anyway to agree with Canadian customs being assholes.

                •  except that as just a person who travels (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Canadian Reader, ichibon

                  and not involved in 'customs' on a professional level the idea that the DHS database is accurate is silly. even I know that it is arbitrary and politically motivated. So even entertaining the idea that customs agents are not aware they are using bad data to stop and exclude people is absurd on the face of it.

                  It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. George Orwell, "1984", first sentence

                  by tony the American Mutt on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 10:24:38 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It maybe the only source (0+ / 0-)

                    available to them that itemizes the true criminals. If 90% of the database is telling you the people you really want to keep out of your nation and the penalty is that 10% of the database is non-criminals, I think they'll use it.

                    •  except it does not itemize (0+ / 0-)

                      'true criminals' it victimizes people who have done nothing. SO for you it would be OK for at LEAST 10% (using the number you pulled straight from your ass) of people who have been excecuted are innocent? bet you would change your tune if that happened to you. That makes you a complete idiot and hypocrit.

                      It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. George Orwell, "1984", first sentence

                      by tony the American Mutt on Fri Oct 05, 2007 at 06:14:58 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  What the fuck are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

                        This discussion is about Canadian border security, and the tools that are available to it to identify people they'd rather keep out of the country.

                        Not Death Row.

                        Your over-the-top analogy reminds me of hypocritical Republican debating idiocy.

            •  They've gone to Canada plenty of times before n/t (5+ / 0-)

              I know for sure that Ann Wright has gone to conferences there since Camp Casey.

              Pelosi is wrong. -- Bill Moyers Journal, 7/13/07

              by gypsy on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:19:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Great point, (3+ / 0-)

            and that's why I commented that the decision may or may not be irrational.  I wasn't attempting to comment on whether the decision was right or wrong.  The decision could be as simple as Canada not wanting to deal with the effects of their presence, and using the anti-terror legislation as an excuse.  If the anti-terror laws weren't on the books, they may have conveniently found other reasoning.  I guess my point was that when it comes to entrance to a foreign country where one is not a citizen, all bets are off, and one's admittance can be denied for very spurious reasons, but all within the accepted rights of that state.  The action may well be unfair or unjust, but no "rights" were violated.

      •  Ha. Good point, but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brass Tacks

        surely as US Citizens, the Canadian government would rely on a US system.  When for example a Russian citizen attempts to enter France, I doubt the French rely on their own obviously empty database, but instead contact or otherwise search Russian-sourced information on the individual.  I don't think it could work any other way.

        •  Yes and the guy at the checkpoint can't just make (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aunt Arctic, Brass Tacks

          a decision on his own. He's bound by the rules he is given.

          A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

          by Doodad on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:24:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wait a second. (2+ / 0-)

            The "guy at the checkpoint" isn't an automaton. If he were, he'd be useless in the job. He has, in fact, quite a lot of discretionary power.

            Many use that power with moderation and common sense, keeping in mind the actual purpose of their position. But, inevitably, there are some who get an ego boost from the conferred ability to inconvenience others.

            Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

            by Canadian Reader on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:54:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  descretionary power has limits! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              True North, Doodad

              These peace activists should clearly be alowed into Canada (my country).

              But I doubt, and certainly hope, that it is not up to the whim of an immigration official which criminals are allowed to entry the country. This has to be based on clear policy set by the government.

              •  Well, apparently they were allowed (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                True North

                entry into Canada, on several previous occasions. So either there's more latitude permitted at the border than you think, or somebody, then or now, didn't follow the policy.

                Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

                by Canadian Reader on Thu Oct 04, 2007 at 07:51:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  or the rules changed n/t (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  True North

                  A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

                  by Doodad on Thu Oct 04, 2007 at 08:17:11 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Welcome to Canada--Maybe (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Canadian Reader

                  It seems to me that we're hearing more reports of people who believe that they were denied entry to Canada--or even detained--for political reasons. The case of Alison Bodine comes to mind, for example. As far as I know, Bodine has no criminal record at all.

                  The border bureaucrats used to be immigration officers, but now they work for the Canadian Border Services Agency. CBSA is part of the Public Safety portfolio. The minister responsible is Stockwell Day.

                  Traditionally, Canada's primary message to Americans is: Welcome to Canada! Visit often! Spend money! Buy things to take home! Come back soon!

                  Balanced against that, obviously, has been the desire to keep out the riffraff--like criminals.

                  There is no doubt that Canada is still enthusiastic about welcoming Americans to Canada--hence the efforts to convince the U.S. not to require Americans to get passports for re-entry to the U.S. That will reduce the number of Americans who will visit.

                  The border bureaucrats have some degree of discretion, but only within the directions given from above. On some things, they may have little discretion, less than the immigration officers of old were given.

                  I'm interested in hearing more from Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright about their experience.

                  If there is some kind of political screening underway, in which it is not the nature of the person's prior activities but the nature of the person's political beliefs that matters, then that is completely unacceptable and Canadians must speak out.

    •  Yes, but I, as a Canadian citizen do not feel (5+ / 0-)

      threatened by Medea Benjamin. I do feel threatened by the illegal weapons that come from Virginia across the Great Lakes, and are circulated in Toronto where the death rate from gun violence has risen sharply over the last several years. I would like Harper, the RCMP, and Canadian Customs and Immigration to do something about THAT. For a quite large city (city is 2.5M, metro area is 5.5 M), Toronto used to be a very safe city.

      Republicans support the Defense Industry and war profiteering for themselves; Democrats support the troops.

      by lecsmith on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:04:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Peter Julian is my MP :) YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (7+ / 0-)

    It is outrageous that the government of my country is acting this way.

    Colonel Wright and Ms. Benjamin, on behalf of my fellow citizens, I apologize.

         In solidarity,
           Heather

  •  Tit for tat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, Iddybud

    We won't let farley mowat into the US, so ...

    I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

    by UntimelyRippd on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:41:35 PM PDT

  •  This is undoubtedly the policy of Stephen Mini-me (3+ / 0-)

    Harper, who wants to be like Bush.

    Republicans support the Defense Industry and war profiteering for themselves; Democrats support the troops.

    by lecsmith on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:58:49 PM PDT

  •  Has nothing to do with Stephen Harper! (4+ / 0-)

    It's part of a common interests agreement the two countries entered into after 9/11.  Each country had an interest in more scrutiny at the border.  Part of the deal was that anyone with a criminal record could not cross.  If the activists had been Canadians travelling into the US they would have faced the same obstacles.  That is one of the prices people pay when they get arrested.

    •  Except, an arrest is not a criminal record. (3+ / 0-)

      If there was a criminal conviction that would be another matter. Or, if there were outstanding criminal charges that had not yet come to trial...

      But just an arrest? No. Not as I read the Citizenship and Immigration web page linked to by statsone above.

      Here it is again: CIC Canada.

      Were they convicted, or are there outstanding charges? We don't have this key piece of information.

      Now, even if there was a conviction, you could still argue that this was a wrongful conviction, or that convictions based on political opposition should be ignored for this purpose. But you'd be on weaker ground.

      Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

      by Canadian Reader on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 10:23:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There has been pressure to (4+ / 0-)

    "integrate" the processes at the border. Information sharing. I suspect this works both ways.
    Entirely justifiable if there are two adjoining nations watching for terrorists. But once the info sharing starts, this is where it leads.

    Fishing nets for one species will bring in others. Wrong fish?  Or the nature of nets, once lowered?

  •  Well the point is..... (4+ / 0-)

    ...they should not have been arrested in the first place. No arrest, no conviction. No conviction, no basis to refuse entry.

    Honestly though, do any Canadians still think Harper is harmeless?

    "I am my brother's keeper. I am a Democrat." -- That's your slogan, Democrats.

    by Bensdad on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 10:11:49 PM PDT

    •  Only when we compare him to Bush. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North, anonymousredvest18

      And, quite honestly, it would be very awkward for any Canadian government, Liberal or Conservative, to come right out and say that the American system of justice is so corrupt we can't trust a criminal conviction in a US court to have been fair.

      There are some countries in the world we'd feel comfortable saying that about, but, you know, you're right next door, and we can't exactly pick our country up and move to a different neighborhood.

      Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

      by Canadian Reader on Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 10:31:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And the answer to that... (0+ / 0-)

      Do Canadians think Harper is harmless?

      I wish I knew the answer to that.

      It looks like an election is on the horizon; we'll find out what Canadians think before Christmas, I bet.

  •  This is a return to the McCarthy era when "Reds" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina

    were routinely watched and harrassed by the FBI, arrested on trumped-up charges by local police, and then refused passports by John Foster Dulles' State Department.

    A nice neat system.  It's back.

  •  Peace activists getting into Canada (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raines, marina, Kingsmeg

    One of the confusing things about the press release is the reference to "arrests" without information about conviction, acquittal, or dismissal of the charges. For the most part, Canada Immigration is concerned about people who have been convicted of criminal offences, not just charged.

    What this suggests to me is that peace activists who plan to enter Canada for a short visit (conference, holiday, meetings, etc.) should do some research before coming to Canada--if they have ever been convicted of a crime in the U.S., that is. Is the offence comparable to an offence covered by the Criminal Code of Canada? How long has it been since the conviction? People can apply ahead of time for a temporary resident permit to visit.

    Activists who want to come to Canada as speakers at a conference should talk to the conference organizers, who may be able to put them in touch with a local immigration lawyer. There are quite a few immigration lawyers who have a refugee law practice, and who are very concerned about human rights issues.

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