George Galloway, controversial British MP has been banned from entering Canada due to national security concerns. He had been slated to deliver a series of speeches in three Canadian cities entitled ” George Galloway Speaks on Resisting Imperialism from Gaza to Khandahar”. The invitation was at the behest of Canadian peace organizations, namely the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War and the event was billed as a fundraiser for humanitarian supplies for Gaza and Afghanistan. Government officials referred to section 34(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act citing concerns of a possible breach as the reason for barring Mr. Galloway’s entry. The section reads:
34(1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for,
(a) engaging in an act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada;
(b) engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government;
(c) engaging in terrorism
(d) being a danger to the security of Canada;
(e) engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada or;
(f) being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c).
Find the entire act here.
Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said border security officials found Galloway inadmissible under at least one subsection of the immigration law dealing with terrorism and support for terrorist organizations. Galloway has been accused of openly supporting and aiding both Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups that Canada has listed as terrorist organizations. A fiery opponent to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a mouth-piece for anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiment, Galloway is no stranger to controversy.
In May of 2006 during an interview with Piers Morgan of GQ magazine, Galloway was asked whether a suicide bomb attack directed at Tony Blair with ” no other casualties” would be morally justifiable ” as revenge for the war on Iraq”. He answered that yes it would, and although he would not call for it, if it happened it would be of a whole different moral order to the events of 7/7.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said it would be an outrage if the British MP were denied entry for what he might say about the war, but conceded there could be a legitimate security concern, a concern he would support as an acting responsible public official. ” He can come to Canada and talk rubbish all day long as far as I’m concerned, he told reporters, but if there’s a security threat, that’s another matter”. Predictably, the NDP denounced the government’s decision outright, claiming it as an example of the government to limit free speech of political opponents.
Velshi wrote: ” The Minister will not provide special treatment to a man who brags about giving financial support to Hamas, a banned terrorist organization in Canada. I’m sure Mr. Galloway has a large Rolodex of friends in regimes elsewhere in the world willing to roll out the red carpet for him. Canada, however, won’t be one of them”.
Galloway intends to challenge the department’s decision in Federal Court. ” We’ll be in court soon to try and overturn this” he said.
Personally I couldn’t care less if Galloway comes to spew his rhetoric. In fact, I and I suppose many others would welcome the opportunity to challenge his facts, ideas and claims. I do care however that the government of Canada does what it has been duly elected to administer: the assurance that the safety and security of all citizens continues to be the priority. And this, I believe they have done.