TORONTO — Organizers of the four-city speaking tour of British anti-war MP George Galloway are going to challenge the decision to bar him from Canada in court.
The organizers also say if that fails, they’ve already prepared plan B.
Organizers are to announce Monday they will file an emergency injunction in Ontario federal court on Tuesday seeking to overturn Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s entry ban on the outspoken politician.
Should that fail, a delegation of Canadian MPs, lawyers and activists is assembling to escort Galloway from the U.S., where he is on tour, across the Canadian border.
“Our hope is the decision will be overturned by the courts when it actually looks at the merits of the decision of the government,” said organizer Laith Marouf, national branches co-ordinator of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights.
“But also … we’re not going to stop at that. We will mount our physical delegation.
“On Monday the 30th in the morning, Mr. Galloway will attempt to cross the border. It has not been decided yet which land crossing – most probably in Quebec,” he said.
“He will be met by throngs of supporters on the other side.”
The government has said the decision to keep the Scottish MP from giving his speaking engagements was based on security grounds. It has riled up the opposition and freedom of speech proponents, who call it censorship.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has also drawn fire for declining to intervene. His office notes Galloway has expressed sympathy for the Taliban cause in Afghanistan and provided financial support to the Palestinian group Hamas, listed in Canada as a terrorist organization.
Two prominent Jewish organizations, B’nai Brith Canada and the Canadian Jewish Congress, have applauded the government’s decision.
Several of the tour organizers held an emergency meeting Sunday at Ryerson University in Toronto to discuss the court challenge plans.
A legal team, led by prominent immigration and refugee lawyer Barbara Jackman, has assembled support of more than 50 organizations.
Groups include the Council of Canadians, Canadian Civil Liberties Union, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, anti-war coalitions in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, several large labour unions and many community organizations, Laith said.
“We’re feeling very positive, we’re having unbelievable amounts of support pouring in through calls, emails. The sales of tickets (to the planned speeches) have skyrocketed – most of the venues are almost sold out,” he said.
Galloway was banned from Britain’s Labour party in 2003 and is now sitting as a left-wing Respect MP.
He had planned to speak Monday at a conference hosted by the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War – entitled Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar – and in neighbouring Mississauga the next day.
He’s now scheduled for engagements on March 30 in Toronto, March 31 in Mississauga, April 1 in Montreal and April 2 in Ottawa.
More than 12 venues across the country are also booked to broadcast his first lecture to a public audience.
Now is the critical time to allow Galloway to speak in Canada, Laith said.
“Galloway is coming to speak about the failed war in Afghanistan, where more and more Canadian soldiers are dying for no reason. And this is on top of the thousands of Afghani civilians who are dying as we are speaking,” he said.
Due to the emergency nature of the court challenge, Laith said they expect to learn whether the government’s decision to ban Galloway will be overturned by the weekend
From the Canadian Press March 22-09