Stephen M. Silverman
October 06, 2005 08:00 AM

Canada has closed its welcoming gate on Martha Stewart, who was set to attend a Windsor, Nova Scotia, fall festival this weekend – until the country’s immigration officials enforced a rule that prohibits ex-cons from entering the country.

“I was really looking forward to it,” the domestic diva said on Wednesday’s edition of her daytime show, Martha, about her plans to have paddled a giant pumpkin across Lake Pesaquid during the festivities. “I was all set. … I’m just sorry that things like this do happen.”

Stewart, 64, was convicted of having lied to federal investigators looking into a stock sale. She spent five months in a correctional facility and another nearly six months in home confinement.

Word that the household name wouldn’t be attending the festival was a major disappointment for pumpkin festival organizer Howard Dill, who told Canada’s ATV News: “Truth be told I don’t blame Martha. It’s just someone in her network that must have fouled up.”

After Stewart’s show revealed the change in travel plans, there emerged a glint of hope that Stewart might still be making the trip.

Immigration Minister Joe Volpe told Canadian Television News that to his knowledge Stewart had yet to apply for entry. “I guess we’re anticipating an application,” Volpe told reporters in Ottawa. “Once we get an application we’ll move as expeditiously as possible to ensure that any individual who wants to come into Canada and is going to make a contribution of sorts gets the opportunity to do so.”

He added: “That would be a good thing.”

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