immigration lawyers to jason kenney: your attempt to intimidate us is "reprehensible" and "we will not succumb"

This story is a bit dated, but many people may have missed it.

You may recall that a few months back, Conrad Black, a convicted felon who renounced his Canadian citizenship, received a temporary resident permit from the CIC. This allowed Black to enter and live in Canada despite his prison record; indeed, the permit was arranged while Black was still scrubbing toilets in a Florida pen.

Many people were appalled by this spectacle of double standard and hypocrisy. After all, Kenney deports US war resisters - who face imprisonment for refusing to kill innocent people - and claims they are criminals, although they have not been tried or convicted of any crime, but he lays out a red carpet for an actual felon, convicted of criminal fraud and obstruction of justice.

What's more, we were supposed to believe that Canada's illustrious Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, who opens and closes the Canadian border according to his own politics and whims, had nothing to do with this decision - that the CIC was simply following its usual procedures.

Among the incredulous was Guidy Mamann, an immigration lawyer.
Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann said Ottawa is supposed to take into account whether a temporary resident permit applicant has demonstrated the ability to live outside prison without reoffending.

“How on earth do you prove that a guy has rehabilitated when he hasn’t even finished his sentence?” he said.

Mr. Mamann said he’s not saying Lord Black doesn’t deserve to be allowed back into Canada, only that if he had a client facing the same challenge, “I wouldn’t even have taken money from him.”

He said he thinks it’s unlikely the Conservative government had no role in the decision.

“The idea that the minister didn’t wink or nod in favour of this thing is impossible to imagine.”
This criticism was apparently too much for Kenney, a typically thin-skinned bully. He pursued a formal complaint against Mamann, seeking to have him investigated for a violation of the Law Society of Upper Canada's code of conduct.
“The idea that the minister didn’t wink or nod in favour of this thing is impossible to imagine,” Mr. Mamann said in comments published at the time.

Kasra Nejatian, a staffer in Mr. Kenney’s office, specifically mentioned this quote in the May, 2012 complaint he filed with the Law Society of Upper Canada, a self-governing organization for Ontario lawyers.

Mr. Nejatian charged in his letter to the law society that Mr. Mamann was quoted in media “as implying corruption or malfeasance by our office in our dealing with matters related to Conrad Black.”

The law society answered the complaint in July by saying it found insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation into Mr. Mamann. It closed the file.

A lawyer for the law society told the Kenney staffer in a reply letter, provided to The Globe by Mr. Mamann, that his allegations offered no evidence of “conduct unbecoming a barrister or solicitor.”

The Ontario governing body also said it had to ensure Mr. Mamann’s right to freedom of expression “is not overridden by what might be characterized as a minor regulatory contravention.”
Shortly thereafter, more than 80 immigration lawyers wrote this open letter to Kenney. The text was published in the Globe and Mail.
Dear Mr. Kenney:

We, the undersigned, all members of the Ontario Bar, agree with the statement of Guidy Mamann when he asserted that it was not credible that the decision taken in relation to the Conrad Black Temporary Resident Permit was made without any input from yourself. Given the high degree of control which you exercise over your department, we do not believe that you did not give your consent, either express or tacit, in relation to the request.

The use by an official of your office, of the Law Society of Upper Canada complaint process, in order to try to silence a critic for his opinion was rightly rejected by the Law Society. However, if you believe that our statement violates the Law Society of Upper Canada Rules please feel free to report us to the Law Society.

We find the attempt by you and your officials to muzzle freedom of expression to be reprehensible. We will not succumb. [See signatories here.]
"We find the attempt by you and your officials to muzzle freedom of expression to be reprehensible. We will not succumb." Words to live by, eh?

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