The Commons: Give us your tired, your poor, your convicted

Thomas Mulcair had news. Or, rather, he’d read the news.

by Aaron Wherry

The Scene. Thomas Mulcair had news. Or, rather, he’d read the news. And so he had a question.

“Mr. Speaker, the member for Trinity-Spadina and I last year asked why Gary Freeman, who lived in this country peaceably for 40 years and had several children, was not being allowed back in the country. The answer was an event that happened in Chicago in the sixties and he had served a short jail time. They said that because he was not a Canadian he was not allowed back in,” the leader of the opposition recounted.

“We just learned that the British criminal Conrad Black will be allowed in despite serving a second term in a federal American penitentiary,” he reported. “Why the double standard?”

The New Democrats seated around him stood to applaud.

“What about the French citizen who leads the NDP?” chirped Conservative backbencher Jeff Watson.

One should have known then that this would not end well.

“Mr. Speaker, matters such as this are a matter of personal privacy. I cannot comment on specific cases without a privacy waiver,” Mr. Kenney demurred at first. “Having said that, I can advise in respect to this individual that I indicated to my department that I would not have any involvement in an application from that individual, and that his application would be treated by highly trained independent members of our public service.”

That was apparently enough of the niceties.

“In terms of the individual that he raises, I understand that member has made interventions on behalf of a convicted police murderer in the United States seeking his entry into Canada,” the Immigration Minister declared. “We believe decisions on admissibility should be made by public servants, not by politicians.”

Mr. Freeman’s situation is apparently a complicated one. But whatever he may or may not be, he would not seem to be a “convicted police murderer.” In March of 1969, Mr. Freeman was involved in a confrontation with a police officer in Chicago. Shots were fired. Mr. Freeman claimed self defence. He skipped bail, allegedly after being threatened, and fled to Canada, where he lived and worked for 34 years and started a family. In 2004, he was apprehended and returned to the United States. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to a charge of aggravated battery and was ordered to serve 30 days in prison and donate $250,000 to charity.

He would now like to return to Canada and it has reportedly been determined that he does not constitute a threat, but a separately disputed allegation, that he once belonged to the Black Panthers, is apparently keeping him from crossing the border.

Mr. Mulcair was displeased with Mr. Kenney’s explanation.

“Mr. Speaker, the facts are simply wrong. Gary Freeman lived in Canada for 40 years, has several children here. We met the press with Natercia Coelho, his wife,” he explained.

At this point, Mr. Mulcair ventured a rather serious insinuation.

“It is a clear case of a double standard, one for an American black man from Chicago,” Mr. Mulcair charged, “another for a British white man coming out of federal penitentiary in Chicago.”

The government side howled. There were cries of “Shame!”

“Having two weights and two measures,” Mr. Mulcair continued, en francais, “that’s the shame of the Conservatives.”

The New Democrats stood to applaud.

Mr. Kenney attempted to turn this around. ”Mr. Speaker, that statement says a lot more about the leader of the opposition than it does about Canada’s fair—” he shot back. The Conservatives stood to applaud their minister, drowning him out in the process. Someone made use of Mr. Kenney’s open microphone to pronounce shame on the NDP leader.

It was at this point, for whatever reason, that Mr. Kenney chose to up the ante even further, simultaneously repeating his erroneous charge against Mr. Freeman and invoking a foreign leader who has acknowledged authorizing torture.

“I know that member and his party like to politicize these matters,” Mr. Kenney lamented. “They want to make a former vice-president of the United States inadmissible to Canada, but they want us to welcome convicted cop killers.” The minister concluded with a flourish. “We think the law should be consistently applied by independent highly-trained public servants,” he proclaimed, “not by political demagogues.”(Mr. Mulcair would later invoke the case of George Galloway to dispute this argument.)

The House moved to other matters, but one Conservative backbencher, Larry Miller, was moved to beg for reason from Mr. Mulcair. “Where’s your standards?” he wondered aloud.

The Stats. The F-35, seven questions. Statistics Canada and employment, three questions each. The budget, Parks Canada, fisheries, Old Age Security, bilingualism, Canada Revenue Agency, ethics, Conrad Black and crime, two questions each. Senate reform, aboriginal affairs, the economy and economic development, one question each.

Stephen Harper, six responses. Diane Finley, four responses. Peter MacKay, Tony Clement, Christian Paradis and Jason Kenney, three responses each. Peter Kent, Keith Ashfield, Gail Shea, Peter Van Loan, Steven Blaney and James Moore, two responses each. Vic Toews, Pierre Poilievre, Leona Aglukkaq and Ted Menzies, one response each.

The Commons: Give us your tired, your poor, your convicted

  1. Oh c’mon. A black American vs a real live British lord?

    Sadly….no one in Canada is surprised by this.

  2. Well if Omar Khadr is welcomed back, then Mr. Black’s return is justified!! Lefties cannot have it both ways!

    • Khadr hasn’t been ‘welcomed back’….Harp has fought it for years.

      Guy on death row isn’t welcome either

      And of course there’s black Gary Freeman

      ‘Lord’ Black however will soon be seen out and about at all the ‘good’ parties and receptions….and Cons will be hanging off his arms.

    • I don’t care if Conrad Black or Omar Kadr or anyone else is allowed back in as long as they don’t pose a threat, and I wouldn’t call myself a Lefty. Do you really think this is about right and left. The Conservatives obviously don’t know what there talking about and lie outright in order to win political points in the hopes that most people won’t notice that they lied. Somebody please wake up the other parties so that we can stop being led by these guys. It’s embarrassing!

    • Omar K is still in prison in the US and the Harper government is doing all it can muster up in its arsenal of conservative tricks to insure he stays there, never to return to Canada. And you might want to consider he has never been convicted of any crime or charged for that matter. He’s being held under some Bushleague war act contrived of warmongering hypocracy.

        • convicted by whom?

        • Correction…he was given no option but to make a plea bargain or get railroaded anyway. What would you have done in his position?

  3. Black is British only because Chrétien, who despised him, forced him to renounce his Canadian citizenship in order to become a British Lord. The fact is that Black didn’t have to do that, but Chrétien insisted. And now, you have Mulcair and Dion, who are both dual French and Canadian citizens. You don’t hear Chrétien howling about that. So who had the double standards here. I guess Mr. Mulcair is a mouthpiece for rable.ca which has a petition circulating to have Freeman come back to Canada.

    • The question isn’t about dual citizenship, that’s fairly common…. it’s about having a Canadian get a title.

      • It’s not the title that’s the problem, it’s that the title gives him legislative powers in a foreign country. He could, for example, vote against a treaty that might be in Canada’s interests. And Chertien didn’t force him to do anything. He gave him a choice and his Lardship chose to renounce his Canadian citizenship.

        • Well generally speaking, Canadians don’t have titles.

          But Conrad made his choice, and only now has he discovered the benefits of being a Canadian. It wasn’t always clear to him.

          May 1, 1997
          I have always had the twin ambition to have at least one hundred million and to get away from Canadian winters.
          - Conrad Black

    • Seems like Chretien was a good judge of character. Maybe it was a case of a good fraudster knowing how to spot another good fraudster, I dunno.

    • Regardless, Black is a foreign citizen with a criminal record. Why should he be allowed in the country?

  4. The “French Citizen who leads the NDP is NOT a criminal, Jeff Watson. Your government reeks of favouritism and bureaucratic hypocrisy ………nothing new there though.

  5. “What about the French citizen who leads the NDP?” chirped Jeff Watson. “Yah man” said his friend Skeeter, while combing back his slick hair and striking a macho pose. “Hey! Let’s blow this pop stand” said their friend Izzy as he pushed a slender bespectacled boy into the lockers, spilling his books onto the hallway floor.
    Soon the three were on their way to the coffee shop where they would bum smokes and ogle Dina, the counter girl while bragging to one another that Dina was going to accompany them to the dance on Saturday night……

  6. Why is the British Lord not returning to Britian? Oh! that’s right they DO NOT want him and ahem, he’s no longer a lord, Mr. Speaker, They stripped him of his title because HE HAS A CRIMINAL RECORD

    • Where did you get that information? Oh, nowhere, you made it up as a life peerage cannot be revoked.

  7. Looks like another day of tedious nonsense. Mulcair would rather talk about this stuff than offer his brand of economics because Canadians would begin running for the hills. The ugly side is coming out of Mulcair. The nice guy was just a charade.

    • It’s the Opposition’s job to question government policies during Question Period and hold the government to account. The Opposition should not be talking about themselves during this time.

      • Yes that is true. However, to sit on the sidelines and criticize anybody can do this. However, if the opposition don’t like something the very least they could do is say what they would do that is at least an alternative to what the government is proposing.
        That’s the problem. Everybody is a critic but offer no other solutions so
        Canadians can decide who has the better idea.

        • If you don’t understand, just say so.

  8. Gotta keep the votes of the racist base (and keep the editorialists at the G&M happy).

  9. Playing the race card on this is a new low for Mulcair. He must think he is dealing with the American media.

    • playing the wilfully lying political operator is not, unfortunately, a new low for Jason. Can the one sided outrage please.

      • Wait a minute…I’m supposed to be “outraged” that Kenney called him a “cop-killer” instead of a “cop-shooter”? Really?

        kcm, dude shot a cop. Full stop. Whether the cop died is quite frankly irrelevant when it comes to determining whether we let this guy in. I couldn’t care less about a verbal slip up like this. Replace cop killer with cop shooter in Kenney’s argument and it’s validity does not decrease one iota.

        To try and make this racial is the kind of disgusting politics that leads down the road to Trayvon Martin. The American media has irresponsibly distorted and inflamed that case so badly that no matter the result now there will probably be riots. Mulcair should be ashamed of himself and withdraw the allegation of racism at his first opportunity.

        • As one of the daughters of Gary Freeman, the fact that you would even suggest that this is not a racial matter, shows how ABSOLUTELY IGNORANT you are. You clearly do not know ANYTHING about what life was like for black people during those times and it would be in your best interest to make sure you know and understand all of the facts behind this case, before making such idiotic comments.

          • Just out of interest do you think Mulcair understands the implications of what he is saying, what he is doing – or is he just playing politics?
            Thx for coming forward.

          • What are you talking about “during those times”? Mulcair’s disgusting suggestion was that the Conservatives are preventing him from coming into the country TODAY because he’s “an American black man from Chicago”. I repeat…TODAY.

          • Wake up JG. Obviously she’s referring to the circumstances of the original shooting. Context matters.

          • If you’re his Daughter, you clearly do not know what life like was back then because your thugging father is shaping it to suit his argument when HE tells you what it was like. You weren’t there and at best you get his editorialized version. I hope your father gets gunned down in DC by some oppressed gang banger before he gets back here and commits any more violence in his perversion of what justice is. Hopefully at a minimum he gets paralyzed by a bullet so he can truly understand his actions. The punk piece of trash has zero contrition and deserves a violent end himself.

        • “kcm, dude shot a cop. Full stop. Whether the cop died is quite frankly irrelevant when it comes to determining whether we let this guy in.”

          there’s the diff between you and me, me and His Honour JK. I think context matters; i think intent matters; i think someone deserves a fair hearing before we take the irrevocable step of excluding them from society, much less executing them; I believe in the full rule of law. I do not believe you or JK or anyone else should second guess it, or attempt to claim the moral right to ignore it.

          I didn’t say i like Mulcair’s tactic – i don’t.It reeks! But pleaassseee spare me the apologia for JK. He’s done this time and time again. Ignored facts and substituted them with his higher moral judgement, no matter what the facts say. If the guy was a straight up “cop killer”who deserved to spend the rest of his life behind bars why did they only throw him jail for a month? This from a society that does not look kindly on cop killers. So there’s more to the story, you bet. Does Kenney give a crap about that? No! You bet there’s a differnce between cop shooter and cop killer, just as there might be a difference between you shooting me if i broke into your house a night as opposed to just offing me cuz you were scared i might be a threat to your community – if i hit you with my bag of candy for instance.

  10. Kenny is a nasty bit of opiniated, self righteous work. He thinks nuance is some form of self abuse or something. I’m all for standing for your beliefs both moral and religious but he goes too far for political advantage, reserving to himself the right to be judge, jury and executioner – if he could pull it off. Kenny might want to remember that those who habitually judge others, those who routinely lie and misrepresent facts are said to be answerable to a higher authoriity than SH.

    • Speaking of self-righteously judging others….

      • God that was witty.How many times have i heard that deep insight from you? Yes let’s all let everything pass that offends us. Obviously i was doing EXACTLY what JK was doing – ignoring the whole story in order to score political points.
        Fortunately i have a pretty good grounding in Religious education as we used to call it in the UK, back in the dark ages when i went to school; and a pretty firm grasp of logic too. But by all means go on defending the indefensible and think you are making a point.

  11. Even on a Wherry thread, does anyone (possibly besides Emily) seriously believe that this is about race??

    So for the sane ones: if it’s not about race, was it really appropriate for Mulcair to insinuate that it is?

    • But was it originally about race 40 years ago…obviously Freeman thought so; presumably it is why he ran. Of course if the US is convinced he was a murderer they might not have wanted to cut him such a deal as he got.
      I’m not one of those defending Mulcair by the way.

  12. never mind the fact that non-canadian citizens with criminal records are allowed in Canada routinely as a matter of course. the one applying the double standard here is socialist douchebag Mulcair. because Black is conservative, he wants him out of Canada. mulcair is a little nazi retard.

    • What’s with the name calling?

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