UPDATED AGAIN – Scroll down for the latest.
Okay, let me see if I’ve got this straight. Thanks to a somewhat curiously headlined story in this morning’s Globe, we learn that the initial deeming of George Galloway as inadmissible to Canada may not have been not quite as final as earlier reports may have led us to believe.
It was, it turns out, a “preliminary assessment” to which Galloway was invited to “submit a rebuttal” before a final decision was made – a rather crucial distinction that was oddly absent from the initial announcement of the “ban”, which was – even more oddly – delivered not by CBSA or even by its responsible minister, Peter Van Loan, but by a spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
To make matters even more confusing: Galloway, for his part, was apparently supposed to have been informed of the assessment via a letter from by the Canadian High Commission in London – which operates under the aegis of Foreign Affairs, in case anyone is keeping a running tally of departments dragged into this maelstorm so far.
According to the Globe, that letter was sent last Friday – which, as it happens, is the same day that the UK Sun broke the news in a story that includes a quote from Kenney’s spokesperson – who seems to have been made aware of the situation before the letter went out. In fact, as of Friday afternoon, the Toronto Star was reporting that it still hadn’t arrived.
UPDATE: A slightly different version of the timeline of events, courtesy of Kenney’s office:
“Telephone calls were placed to Galloway’s office by Canadian officials on Thursday. His office requested a written summary of the preliminary assessment on Friday morning and that was provided to them by COB Friday in the form of a letter.”
Meanwhile, quotes from Kenney’s spokesperson are scattered liberally throughout the first wave of subsequent media reports, although at no point does he state that the assessment has not yet been finalized, nor does he explain how or why his minister would have been informed that an assessment was currently underway.
Three days later, Kenney finds himself fielding questions about Galloway during yesterday’s post-QP scrums — and suddenly, despite the fact that his office was all over the place during the initial coverage, he seems to be denying that he was involved at all:
Question: Were you consulted before that decision was made?
Hon. Jason Kenney: I was not personally consulted. As I say, under the Act, I don’t have negative discretion to deny anyone entry to Canada for any reason. These decisions are made by trained public servants. […]
Question: But you were aware of it before the decision was made, you were aware of the issue?
Hon. Jason Kenney: There was some discussion in my office but I could not and cannot give direction to agents of the CBSA who are not even in my ministry. […]
Question: Mr. Kenney, (inaudible) wants the CBSA to review the case so Mr. Galloway doesn’t have to apply for a visa? How does it end up being looked at?
Hon. Jason Kenney: Ask the CBSA. […]
“Ask the CBSA”? Funny, that’s a suggestion I can’t recall emanating from his office during the initial burst of media coverage. It’s almost as though Kenney is making a concerted effort to get his name out of the headlines — which, given his seemingly unquenchable enthusiasm for generating news, may be the oddest thing about this story so far — and that’s saying something.
Meanwhile, Galloway’s legal team is apparently going to file that rebuttal to CBSA after all. Stay tuned — this story may have a few twists left.
From yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen:
In a letter, Robert Orr, the immigration program manager at the Canadian High Commission, told Galloway his “material support” for Hamas makes him inadmissible under Section 34 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Which raises a few more questions:
As program manager for immigration at a High Commission, does Orr work for Foreign Affairs or Citizenship and Immigration? More to the point, why was he the luckless official tasked with calling Galloway to pass on a “written summary” of a preliminary assessment prepared by CBSA, which doesn’t actually report to either department?
How often does CBSA issue ‘preliminary assessments’, anyway? How is such a procedure triggered? The only references I can find online refer to assessments resulting from applications for temporary or permanent residency, which – as we’ve already pretty well established – was not the case in this situation.
Could an assessment be requested by a third party? If so, what are the privacy issues related to sharing that information with other government departments – like, say, Citizenship and Immigration, which, according to Kenney, wasn’t even involved in this case, except for “some discussion in [his] office”?