This story piqued my interest in my news scans over the past few days. Amy Goodman, who most of my right-of-centre co-travellers would consider a bit fringe while others would consider solidly left-wing, was detained for questioning on Wednesday at a British Columbian border crossing. Goodman was questioned about her reasons for visiting Canada. The independent journalist and broadcaster cited a couple of speaking engagements in Victoria and Vancouver to promote her book.
Officials from the Canadian Border Services Agency were interested in whether Goodman would be speaking about the Vancouver 2010 Olympics games. Goodman responded no, but by her own account she explained that CBSA didn’t seem to believe her.
I contacted a spokeswoman for CBSA and they explained that while they cannot comment on specific cases, “all persons seeking entry into Canada must meet all requirements” set out by the CBSA. Applicants for entry must not have a record of criminality, for example.
I’d wondered if Amy Goodman had ever been arrested since I’ve known her to be something of an activist on issues. A quick Google search revealed that she had been arrested at the Republican National Convention in 2008 for “conspiracy to riot”. Here is a video of her arrest:
The charges were eventually dropped against Goodman as the St. Paul City Attorney’s office refused to prosecute.
However, it is unclear as to whether charges without conviction is enough to create a “lookout” in the CBSA database. The CBSA spokeswoman also told me that criminality is certainly a red flag when it comes to determining a person’s fitness for admissibility.
Given the unprecedented security that is being put in place for the 2010 games, a less than perfect history with law enforcement may have given agents more pause when considering Goodman.
Despite the temporary detention, Goodman is likely not too upset about the whole affair. She was admitted to Canada for two days and has now received national media attention for the book she was promoting.