Banning people at the border: Should we let Terry Jones in?


When he threatened to burn a stack of Qu'rans in Florida, he enflamed nations half a world away. Now Pastor Terry Jones wants to participate in a debate in Toronto and argue that Islam is not compatible with Western Culture. And that's created another kind of firestorm ... Should the government let him in? This is an issue where Free Speech and Free Expression meets concerns over National Security and Ministerial Powers. Just where is Canada's "Line in the Sand" on this one?

*** STORY UPDATE: This afternoon, Pastor Terry Jones was denied entry to Canada.

Banning people at the border: Should we let Terry Jones in? - Panel

Terry Jones burned some books -- and set off fires on the other side of the globe. The Florida pastor threatened to mark the anniversary of the September 11th attacks two years ago by burning copies of the Qur'an. In Afghanistan, thousands of protesters subsequently over ran a United Nations compound and killed a dozen people. Pastor Jones says he's had hundreds of death threats since.

Now Terry Jones was also in the news in the last month for helping to distribute the film Innocence of Muslims which sparked violence in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

He hopes to visit Canada today to speak in Toronto. But it's not clear if he'll get in. Two years ago, Ottawa barred British MP George Galloway, arguing he was a national security threat because he once raised money for Hamas. In the end though, Mr. Galloway appealed the decision to a Canadian court and won. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is now tabling legislative changes giving him the power to refuse entry to foreigners based on what are called "public policy grounds."

Mr. Jones's visit is a Line in the Sand for defenders of free speech. For their thoughts, we were joined by Barbara Jackman. She's an immigration lawyer who represented George Galloway when he was refused entry. She was in Toronto. And Martin Collacott is a former Canadian Ambassador who's now with the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform. He was in Vancouver.

We requested an interview with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. He wasn't available this morning.

At least one Canadian would like Terry Jones to visit Canada. Steve Rockwell is an imam in Toronto who hopes to debate Mr. Jones tonight, on the lawn in front of the Ontario legislature. He spoke with us earlier. He plans to debate Terry Jones in Toronto tonight.

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott and Ben Edwards.

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