Archive for April 2012
Conrad Black, former Canadian citizen and conservative pundit and press baron, currently a British citizen who is still a pundit but who is also serving hard time in an American prison, is going to be released from prison soon.
Fallen Canadian-born media tycoon Conrad Black is scheduled to be released from a U.S. prison by next weekend, according to corrections officials.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons online inmate locator lists Black’s release date from Miami’s Federal Correction Institution as next Saturday.
Bureau spokeswoman Tracy Billingsley told CBC News the date is only a “projected estimate” of a release date but is “generally accurate.'” But she added Black could be free as early as Friday.
“When a release date falls on a weekend, we can release them on the Friday prior to that weekend,” Billingsley said Sunday.
Black, 67, was resentenced last June to 42 months in prison on fraud and obstruction of justice charges.
Black had already served 29 months in the Coleman federal prison in Florida before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down some of his initial convictions, citing a misuse of the “honest services” provision of the U.S. fraud statute. His original sentence was for 78 months in prison after multiple convictions on fraud and obstruction of justice charges.
Conrad Black is Canadian-born, and was a Canadian citizen from birth. Black famously renounced his citizenship for Britain’s in 2001, following the outcome of the case Black v. Chrétien wherein the Canadian courts confirmed that the Canadian prime minister did have the right to ask the British queen not to confer titles of nobility on a Canadian citizen. Black’s renunciation was made quite happily, accompanied by a denunciation of Canada generally. When he was hit with fraud charges, Black tried to regain his Canadan citizenship, but by the time he was sentenced to prison–amid a fair degree of happiness by Canadians unfond of Black–he was far from getting it.
The question now being asked, in the National Post he founded and in the Globe and Mail and in the Canadian Press, is how can Black come back to Canada? Black’s unusual citizenship status was long noted as having strongly negative implications for his desire to live in Canada after his release, as I noted in a July 2010 [FORUM] post. As a convicted felon, the Canadian Press’ Michelle McQuigge confirms, his options are few.
Joel Sandaluk, partner with immigration firm Mamann, Sandaluk and Kingwell Llp, said Black’s pending citizenship will be as complex, unusual and uncertain as his previous clashes with the North American justice system.
[. . .]
Black was born in Toronto, but gave up his citizenship in 2001 after being offered a peerage in Britain’s House of Lords. Then-prime minister Jean Chrétien forbade him from accepting the role while he held a Canadian passport.
Sandaluk said that decision — made before his legal woes began in the U.S. — means Black must be treated as any other foreign national when applying to move back to Canada full time. Black can only be considered as a potential citizen after attaining permanent residency status and living in the country for at least a year.
Permanent residency, however, seems unlikely due to Black’s criminal record, Sandaluk said.
[. . .]
Although he will complete his sentence and be released on Friday, Sandaluk said his two convictions make him criminally inadmissible for residency in Canada.
Black’s only recourse, he said, is to apply for a temporary resident permit — a document that essentially stands as permission from the federal minister of citizenship and immigration.
“What (the permits) basically are meant to be is a cure-all for any form of inadmissibility,” Sandaluk said, adding the document would allow Black to come to Canada for anything from an overnight visit to a prolonged stay.
Will the Conservative government, long associated with Black and his late media empire, give him this temporary resident permit? Harper had promised back in the day not to, but that day was the day of his minority government. What might a majority government do? And what sort of reaction would it get if it gave Black this temporary residency? (What reaction would it get if it didn’t?)
A while ago at the soc.motss group on Facebook, I linked to (out, gay) Jayson Littman‘s perplexing Huffington Post essay on the ex-gay community and its members, and the ways in which they’re “persecuted”.
Recently an “ex-gay” friend of mine was detailing the pain he felt when some of his colleagues at work were gossiping about him after finding out he was an ex-gay. “It gets better,” I jokingly told him, before immediately realizing that that statement in itself was an act of bullying.
I recalled my five years in reparative therapy through the Jewish ex-gay organization JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) and remembered attending ex-gay conferences such as Love Won Out and being confronted by LGBT protestors. Those times were quite difficult, because even though I was confident I was on the right path, I felt I was being challenged, mocked, and put down.
Occasionally, an opportunity would arise to meet with a graduate student writing her thesis on ex-gays, or a filmmaker wanting to document someone’s journey out of homosexuality. I guess a part of me wanted to connect with the mainstream world, and therefore I usually obliged. Graduate students seemed interested in the desire of someone wanting to change their sexuality, while filmmakers tended to focus on mocking the ex-gay process. Many times I left feeling defeated and down after having my level of attractions challenged and questioned.
The media didn’t help, either. During my process of change, I saw the Will & Grace episode in which Jack becomes attracted to the leader of an ex-gay program (played by Neil Patrick Harris) and acts straight to woo the man — and succeeds. The movie But I’m a Cheerleader, about a naïve teenager who is sent to rehab camp when her conservative parents and friends suspect her of being a lesbian, also mocks the ex-gay movement. At the time, I felt bullied by mainstream media, and no outrage was mentioned anywhere. Had there been movies and television shows that mocked the LGBT community, there would have been an uproar (as seen when ABC aired the cross-dressing sitcom Work It). Why had no one come to the defense ex-gays being mocked in the media?
The ex-gay life is a constant struggle, and the inability to “come out” as ex-gay is a result of the LGBT community ridiculing and mocking the visible and outspoken ex-gays and putting their mannerisms and affectations under a microscope. If this were done to us, we would call it bullying. At one of my lowest times as an ex-gay, I called the Trevor Helpline (now called the Trevor Lifeline, a program of the Trevor Project) to talk to a counselor. I didn’t identify myself as an ex-gay, but just needed to speak to someone. I imagine others in the ex-gay world do the same in moments of crisis.
As many people over in the comments at the Huffington Post pointed out, the problem with Littman’s claims of ex-gay persecution is that the entire ex-gay movement is founded on the assumption that anything non-heterosexual is immoral, that the only moral way to behave sexually is heterosexually (or not at all), and that maintaining an ex-gay movement linked closely with political and cultural forces strongly opposed to gay rights is an OK thing to do. Complaining that ex-gays are “ridiculed and judged” by non-heterosexuals for their ideological alignment overlooks the reality that the ex-gay movement is based on a negative critical judgement of out non-heterosexuals. What’s wrong with (say) pointing out the many instances where the ex-gay movement can be proven to be factually wrong, or proven to be doing harm, or shown to be fronted by people who are hypocrites in denouncing gay sex while indulging (not gay relationships, sadly, since that’s too gay)?
Littman does have a nub of a point with his plea for sympathy. He is right to point out that ex-gays have their own psychological issues meriting concern, and that ex-gays, too, belong to the spectrum of people who aren’t heterosexual. I do feel a certain sympathy for ex-gays inasmuch as most people coming out have had their own issues with recognizing and acting on their sexual orientation (I certainly did), and it’s probably true that for many people trapped in conservative religious environments an ex-gay community might be a necessary point en route to a more mature relationship to their sexuality than blanket denial. (After all, in an ex-gay group you have to admit to having certain … inclinations.) Having the space to deal with individual ex-gays in environments where the movement can be dealt with more gently might not be a bad idea. (But how, I know, I know.)