Motivational Speaker stopped at border on way to give talk about drugs

Category: General
Posted by: Shiela

Edmonton Journal August 19, 2008

"If you come in five times it doesn't necessarily mean that just because you came in last time that you would be allowed to come in this time," Lisa White, Canada Border Service Agency spokeswoman said. "It's all dependent on what is presented to us."

A former methamphetamine addict scheduled to speak in Hobbema about the dangers of drug use two days after a gang-related murder on the Samsom First Nation reerve was stopped at the border Sunday.

David Parnell, who used the drugs for seven years and now tells his story as a motiviational speaker, planned to travel from Tennessee to speak at Erneskine Junior/Senior High School.

Parnell has spoken more than a dozen times in Canada since 2004, but when he arrived in Calgary from Nashville on Sunday morning, Canadian border guards stopped him due to his criminal record.

Parnell said he had planned to make eight presentations to adults and youths in the community, which has been plagued by drug-related gang violence.

"I try to give people hope, if they can't recover. I try to get kids so then dont even start," Parnell said fromthe Minneapolis airport, where he was waiting for a connecting flight back to Nashville.

Parnell 41, said he has a handful of criminal charges from when he was in his 20's, including assault and public intoxication. He also spent four months in jail in 1994 for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell.

Parnell said he realised the border services officer was just dong her job, but he was upset and shocked when he was not allowed into the country.

"I told her I had already paid my price. I had done my time," he said.

Canada Border Service Agency spokeswoman Lisa White, said a criminal record doesn't necessarily mean someone will be deined entry into Canada, since border officers assess applications on a case by case basis.

The onus is on the travellers to ensure they meet all entry requirements she said, adding that anyone with a criminal record should check with the Canadian Consulate in their home country before coming to Canada.