Ottawa is granting former media baron Conrad Black permission to reside in Canada despite the fact he gave up his citizenship more than a decade ago and has since served jail time in Florida for fraud and obstruction of justice.
The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has authorized a one-year temporary resident permit for Lord Black that is valid from early May, 2012, until early May, 2013, The Globe and Mail has learned.
The former head of Hollinger International is expected to be released from a U.S. prison this Friday.
Securing this permit is the first step toward winning back Canadian citizenship, should Lord Black wish to do so.
The Globe and Mail has learned that Lord Black paid a $200 fee for a temporary-resident permit on March 20, 2012.
A source familiar with the matter said the Case Management Branch of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration approved the permit in March.
The department, in its decision, judged that Lord Black does not pose a threat to the Canadian public and that his high-profile status ensures his every move in Canada would come under close scrutiny.
Government sources say that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney explicitly ordered his department to leave him out of the decision-making on Lord Black.
In February, before Lord Black applied for the permit, Mr. Kenney's staff sent an email to Citizenship and Immigration officials asking that all decisions on the file be handled by the department.
Lord Black renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 in order to obtain a British peerage.
It is not the first time he's been issued such a temporary-resident permit (TRP) – but it's the first since his 2007 criminal conviction.
In December, 2005 – when Liberal prime minister Paul Martin was in office – he was issued a one-year multiple-entry permit. Lord Black also was granted another such permit by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration in November, 2006, by which time the Harper government was in power.
Lord Black was convicted in Chicago in 2007 of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice over the misappropriation of money at newspaper giant Hollinger International Inc. He was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison.
Lord Black launched several appeals, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ended up rewriting part of the U.S. fraud statute. Those appeals eventually led to the reversal of two fraud convictions and Lord Black was re-sentenced to 42 months in prison.
He has been completing that sentence at a prison in Miami.