Could Beyoncé Really Be Barred From Entering Canada?

After Queen Bey’s slay-tastic Super Bowl performance, a Toronto city councillor suggested it was a show of support for the Black Panthers—and grounds for barring her entry to Canada. Formation Tour tickets in hand, we got an immigration lawyer on the line

beyonce banned from canada

Beyoncé and her formation of ladies (Photo: Sean Ryan/IPS/REX/Shutterstock)

At least one person in the universe was not wowed by Beyoncé’s sublime Super Bowl halftime show: Toronto city councillor Jim Karygiannis, who speculated that the pop star—whose Formation tour will touch down in Edmonton and Toronto this May—may no longer be welcome north of the border. Say what?

“Perhaps Immigration Minister John McCallum should have her investigated… If someone wore bullets and supported (a radical group) here, they would not be welcomed in the United States—that’s for sure,” Karygiannis told the Toronto Sun. (In a later interview with Global News, he clarified that he was not actually calling for a Beyoncé ban.)

The radical group to which Karygiannis refers is the now-defunct Black Panther Party. Formed in the 1960s, it arose in response to persistent unchecked police brutality against black Americans and advocated that minority groups use force to defend themselves against police and the U.S. government.

During the much-hyped halftime show, Bey and her dancers wore Panther-style black berets, and her costume was adorned with a bandolier of bullets.

Controversial, sure. Provocative, yes ma’am. But ban-worthy? Not a chance.

Karygiannis may be irritated by the performer’s allusions to a radical group, but her performance doesn’t qualify her for an official inquiry by Immigration Canada, says John Abrams, a Hamilton, Ont.-based immigration lawyer. (Calls to the Ministry of Immigration were not returned by press time.) While the ministry is empowered to deny entry into Canada based on an individual’s links to terrorist organizations, Bey’s performance doesn’t count.

“She would have to be a member of the party or she would have to have given some support,” Abrams says. “There’s nothing there. There would have to be a material connection.”

Material connection, by the way, means providing money or aid, not writing a song. Or wearing a black beret. Or drawing attention to the continued violence against minority groups. That’s not defying Canadian values, says Abrams; rather, it embodies them. “It’s freedom of speech,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

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