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A Toronto Politician Asked Whether Canada Should Ban Beyoncé

Jim Karygiannis thinks Justin Trudeau should investigate Bey's connection to Black Panthers. We looked into reasons to keep her out of the country.
Justin Ling
Montreal, CA

A performance apparently befitting of a freakout by a Toronto city councillor. Photo via Facebook

Does Jimmy K want Canada to block Bey?

That's a possibility he raised with the Toronto Sun on Tuesday.

Jim Karygiannis, Toronto city councillor, former member of parliament, and all-around plain-spoken guy, told the tabloid on Tuesday that the Trudeau government should investigate ties between Beyoncé—and her Super Bowl backup dancers—and the Black Panther Party.

And while it might seem ridiculous to suggest that Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) should turn Beyoncé Knowles-Carter away at the border, well, it is.


Beyoncé is slated to perform in Toronto on May 25, but after her Super Bowl halftime performance—which, on top of being the best, gave shout-outs to the Black Panthers and Malcolm X—the city councillor says the federal government should be vetting whether or not she's eligible to enter the country.

"Perhaps Immigration Minister John McCallum should have her investigated first?" Karygiannis told Sun columnist/Rob Ford apologist Joe Warmington, who is very good at transcribing interviews with city councillors he likes. "If someone wore bullets and supported [a radical group] here, they would not be welcomed in the United States—that's for sure."

Likewise, he said, "she or some of them [the dancers] could be found not eligible to enter the country as others in the past have faced," adding that it's wrong for the pop star to be advancing "gun culture or anti-police sentiments."

VICE reached out to the councillor to find out what the hell he was talking about.

"Look, if there's questions, have Minister MacCallum investigative," Karygiannis said. "People are offended by it… and if people are offended by it, call the minister."

Despite telling the Sun that her performance was "disturbing," Karygiannis says he has no problem with the performer: "I don't care whether she comes, she doesn't come. I don't care."

But, at the same time, Karygiannis kept reiterating that people should pass their complaints onto the federal government and ask it to investigate. "If people are offended with what's she's wearing, [McCallum's office] is where it should be addressed. If you're offended by it, don't let her in."


Lots of people hated Bey's performance, of course. New York mascot Rudy Giuliani ranted about how it's anti-cop, and proceeded to tell America's black population what it should be doing,

But nobody raised the idea of banning Beyoncé from the country, especially because that's not even remotely how Canadian law works.

Let's go through the CBSA's checklist of how someone can be denied entry to Canada:

"Security"—Unless you consider her ass to be dynamite, I don't think national security applies.

"Human or international rights violations"—While she did slay at the Super Bowl, there were no reported casualties.

"Criminality"—Jay Z once stabbed a guy in the stomach and spent three years on probation. But that's his problem.

"Organized criminality"—Destiny's Child does not sound like a very good gang.

"Health grounds"—She looks healthy to me.

"Financial reasons"—Maybe she has too much money?

"Misrepresentation"—"Listen, Mrs. Beyoncé, you need to put your last name on the form."

"Having an inadmissible family member"—I think we can all get behind banning Jay Z from Canada for his verse on "Monster."

I cannot find "being offended," "wearing a bullet sash," or "making Chris Martin look stupid" anywhere on the CBSA website.

And while Canada has a long history in barring would-be entrants at the border, there are generally pretty good reasons.

Chris Brown, for one, got turned away en route to a show in Montreal, probably due to his criminal record. Emo band the Used (a.k.a. the poor man's My Chemical Romance) had a similar experience thanks to some decade-old misdemeanors. Rapper Danny Brown was also denied en route to tour dates in western Canada.


Jimmy K. Photo via Facebook

Karygiannis raised the example—"you're probably too young to remember this"—of Keith Richards being arrested in Canada for "a joint." Actually, the RCMP found heroin in his room. He was arrested, and eventually deported, although he was let back in the country on subsequent tours because he's Keith Richards.

One of the most infamous cases was that of George Galloway, a pro-Palestinian member of the British Parliament. He was barred from entering Canada on "security grounds" due to his financial and material support of the government in the Gaza Strip—run by Hamas, a listed terrorist group in Canada. Karygiannis mentioned this example, too.

A judge overturned that decision and later admitted Galloway's entry into the country.

Obviously, this isn't the first time Jimmy K has made news for dubious reasons.

Over his decades on the federal scene, he was known for some seriously old school campaign tactics—like stuffing gum in pay phones to stop opponents from making calls. Everyone who worked on Parliament Hill has his or her own Jimmy K story. National Post reporter Stewart Bell once got a call from the MP, who gave casual instructions to go after one of his Liberal colleagues. As a councillor, he's become infamous for going after Uber drivers, resulting in Mayor John Tory calling his behavior "a disgrace."

And while the city councillor had once told me to "take a long flight off a short pier" and to go "shop at FCUK," he did, at least, call me back for this story.

@Justin_Ling I said yesterday take a long flight off a short pier. However before doing that go and shop at FCUK they have gr8 selections

— Jim Karygiannis (@jimkarygiannis)

June 20, 2014

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