Recently released documents show the decision to grant Lord Black a Canada visa was fair.
14 June 2012
No foul play in Lord Black Canada visa case
Recently released official records prove there was no bias shown in the decision to grant disgraced former media baron Lord Black a Canada visa.
Lord Conrad Black was released from an American prison last month after serving 37 months for fraud and obstructing the court of justice. As Black has a peerage in the British House of Lords, Black had to obtain a Canada visa in order to return to the country of his birth upon his release.
Black had been forced to renounce his citizenship in 2001 upon taking up his peerage at the insistence of then-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and many doubted whether he would be permitted to return to Canada upon his release.
Despite the doubts and the ensuing outrage, his application was quickly granted and he travelled to Toronto to join his wife and children.
As Black's application was processed in a matter of weeks, rather than the typical one to three years most applications take, questions were asked as to the legitimacy of Black's application.
However, records released by Canada immigration authorities reveal that Black's application was processed quickly as he had applied in the past and the decision to grant the application was not subject to any outside influences or pressure.
"The file was handled by the visa office in Buffalo by an experienced immigration officer," read the document. "No direction was given as to the processing of the application or the result of the application.
"Decisions by immigration officers cannot be fettered."
While the rapidity of Black's application caused some concern, many doubted whether he should be allowed to return to the country he denounced as a disgraced criminal. Leader of the Canadian opposition, Thomas Mulcair, accused the government of pandering to white collar criminals and labelled the move as a 'clear case of a double standard'.
The released files howerver, reveal the application was granted due to the apparent unlikelihood Lord Black would reoffend and the negligible risk of harm he presents to fellow Canadians.
"It was determined that he was unlikely to reoffend, that the risk of him engaging in any questionable activities would be slight and that he would not constitute a danger to the health or safety of Canadians if allowed entry into Canada," the document read.
"It is common practice to issue subsequent [temporary resident visa] to clients not yet eligible for rehabilitation who have compelling reasons for entry to Canada if there have been no additional convictions or other issues that would raise concern in the interim, which is the case with Mr Black."
The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people make their application to the Canadian Embassy.