Conrad Black will be let into Canada: report

Former media mogul Conrad Black arrives at federal court in Chicago, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. Black's reported return to Canada sparked a heated exchange in the House of Commons Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charles Rex Arobasgt

OTTAWA - Conrad Black's reported return to Canada sparked a heated exchange in the House of Commons.

The Globe and Mail is reporting Citizenship and Immigration has granted a one-year temporary resident permit to the disgraced media baron.

Citing sources, the newspaper said Tuesday the permit is valid from early this month, when Black is freed from jail in Florida, until May next year.

The report says Black paid a $200 fee on March 20 for the temporary resident permit.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told NDP Leader Tom Mulcair that privacy rules prevented him from answering questions about reports of Black's return to Canada.

"Matters such as this are a matter of personal privacy. I cannot comment on specific cases without a privacy waiver," Kenney said, to boos and heckling from the opposition benches.

"Having said that, I can advise the House with respect to this individual, I indicated to my department that I would not have any involvement in an application from that individual, and that his application would be treated by highly trained, independent members of our public service."

Kenney later said outside the House that Citizenship and Immigration issues thousands of temporary residence permits to applicants with non-violent criminal records who are determined not to be a threat and are considered a low risk to reoffend.

The minister added he had earlier anticipated Black would apply for a temporary residence permit, so in February told his department to deal with the application on its own, without any input from him or his office.

Spokespersons for Citizenship and Immigration also cited privacy rules in declining to confirm the report.

The Supreme Court of Canada made the need for the permit clear earlier this month when handing down a ruling on an unrelated libel case. The decision specified that Black could not re-enter the country without "the special permission of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration even once he has finished serving his sentence."

Immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk told The Canadian Press a temporary resident permit would be all the permission that's required, adding Kenney would not have to weigh in personally.

Born in Montreal, Black gave up his Canadian citizenship in 2001 after being offered a peerage in Britain's House of Lords, something then-prime minister Jean Chretien forbade him from accepting while he held a Canadian passport.

He's due for release Friday from a U.S. prison after serving a reduced sentence for fraud.

Black's controversial business dealings while at the helm of Hollinger's global media empire netted him fraud and obstruction of justice convictions in 2007 and saw him spend several years in a Florida prison.

Black has stated in previous media interviews that he hopes to return to Toronto, where he and wife Barbara Amiel still own a home.

His memoir "A Matter of Principle" is one of three nominees for the 2012 National Business Book Award, and media reports suggest he plans to be in attendance when the winner is announced May 28.