Fact Check: Tommy Robinson NOT Arrested In Canada For Expressing Anti-Islam Views -- It Was On 'Outstanding Immigration Warrant'

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Tommy Robinson NOT Arrested In Canada For Expressing Anti-Islam Views -- It Was On 'Outstanding Immigration Warrant' Open Warrant

Was British activist Tommy Robinson arrested in Canada for expressing anti-Islam views? No, that's not true: In a video of his arrest, the plainclothes Canada Border Services Agency officers who handcuffed Robinson said he was arrested on an "outstanding immigration warrant." They also suggested the activist lied about his criminal history on his visa application to enter Canada.

The claim appeared in a post and video (archived here) published on X, formerly Twitter, on June 25, 2024. The post's caption said:

Tommy Robinson, a British anti-Islam activist, was arrested in Canada after delivering a speech that received a standing ovation.

Canada is Sharia compliant and he was probably arrested for Islamophobia. His other crime may have been meeting with Gaad Saad @GadSaad

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:

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(Source: X screenshot taken on Mon 24 15:16:19 2024 UTC)

The post provided no attribution or other evidence to substantiate its claim that Robinson was arrested in Canada for expressing anti-Islam views.

The video

The five-minute-plus video shows Robinson being arrested on June 24, 2024, outside the Carriage House Hotel and Conference Centre in Calgary, where he spoke at an event sponsored by Rebel News called "An Evening with Tommy Robinson."

The video begins as the activist is being handcuffed in front of the hotel by the two plainclothes officers. Calgary Police Service officers were also at the scene. In part, this is the exchange between Robinson and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers:

Plainclothes officer: You got an outstanding immigration warrant. We'll talk about it in the vehicle, OK?

Robinson: I've got an outstanding what?

Plainclothes officer: Outstanding immigration warrant. We'll talk about it in the vehicle, OK? ...

Robinson: Absolutely insane. Get me lawyer. Can you not tell me what I'm under arrest for?

Plainclothes officer: You're under arrest for having outstanding warrants. I'm happy to provide you with all of your rights.

Calgary Police Service

In a June 25, 2024, email to Lead Stories, Calgary Police Service (CPS) media relations said the agency only played a supporting role in the arrest. The CPS statement said:

Officers from the Calgary Police Service were in attendance to keep the peace and assist the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in an arrest. Please direct all inquires to CBSA.

Canada Border Services Agency

Rebecca Purdy, a senior spokesperson for the CBSA, told Lead Stories in a June 25, 2024, email that there was little the agency was permitted to say about the case. She said:

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) does not provide comment or details on specific individual cases as an individual's border and immigration information is considered private and protected by the Privacy Act.

However, the social media video does reveal some details of the case. One of the plainclothes officers in the vehicle transporting Robinson can be heard telling him that the director of CBSA signed his arrest warrant. Here's their exchange:

Robinson: Ain't it mad how tough you get with immigration on the wrong people?

It's mental, isn't it? You act like absolute spineless cowards as a country letting every bloody goddamn fucking Abdul or whoever into your country - you don't know nothing about them, their criminal histories, or anything, or their ideologies - and then you turn up mob-handed for me for giving a talk at a seminar.

Plainclothes officer: Well, it's rather ironic when you're talking about criminal history ... coming from the guy who lied on his application about his criminal history

Robinson: No, I didn't

Plainclothes officer: Sure, you did.

Robinson: No, I didn't.

Plainclothes officer: Who applied for your electronic visa [to enter Canada]?

Robinson: My boss.

Plainclothes officer: Your boss?

In her response to Lead Stories, Purdy provided general information on the circumstances under which someone might be detained by the CBSA. She said:

The Agency's role is to assess the admissibility of persons coming to Canada and pursue investigations against persons in Canada who may be inadmissible.

All persons seeking entry to Canada are examined by the CBSA and must demonstrate they meet the requirements to enter. Admissibility of all travellers is decided based on the information made available at the time of entry and travellers must have documentation that provides details of the reason for their travel and any other information that may be relevant. If information comes to light that an individual who was granted entry to Canada may be inadmissible, the CBSA can launch an investigation and initiate appropriate enforcement action. Enforcement action may include the arrest and detention of an inadmissible individual, as authorized under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

The process for determining inadmissibility begins with the issuance of a 44 report that outlines the reasons for inadmissibility and refers the report to an authorized decision-maker: Minister's Delegate or an Immigration Division Member for an admissibility hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) where a determination is made whether or not to issue a removal order.

Several factors are used in determining if an individual is admissible to Canada, including involvement in criminal activity, human rights violations, organized crime, security, misrepresenting themselves, use fraudulent documentation, health or financial reasons. A complete list of reasons for inadmissibility can be found under s34-s42 of the IRPA. More information on the reasons someone may be inadmissible to Canada can be found online.

Yahoo News

In a story published June 25, 2024, Yahoo News reported:

In 2012 Robinson pleaded guilty to using a friend's passport to travel to the United States and was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment.

While CBSA doesn't say, this criminal activity may have played a role in his arrest based on Canadian law. He has served multiple prison terms.

Read more

Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims involving Tommy Robinson can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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