Saturday, March 21, 2009

Galloway Not Welcome in Canada

British MP George Galloway is being denied permission to enter Canada.

The former Scottish Labour MP who now represents a London constituency for the far left Respect Party, had been invited to speak at a demonstration in Toronto on March 30th and at a forum in neighboring Mississauga the following day.

The ban is interesting in light of Britain denying Dutch MP Geer Wilders entry on their soil last month.

However, Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney said that Galloway is being denied entry into Canada for material support he provided to Hamas. There is a provision in Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which gives the government authority to deny entry into Canada.

Last month, Galloway raised over £1 million for a convoy shipment to Gaza in the wake of Israel's defensive operations there in December 2008 and January 2009. The shipment arrived in Gaza on March 9th. Indeed, it is worth noting that Galloway received a Palestinian passport from Gaza/Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for his efforts.

Civil libertarians will ask how outrage can be expressed at Britain for denying Wilders entry but not towards Canada for denying Galloway entry.

While both countries are denying these parliamentarians entry on public security grounds there is one key difference. Britain did not accuse Wilders of breaking any of Britain's laws only that he would "threaten community harmony." Galloway is being specifically accused of violating Canadian law.

The flip side to that is that Britain is not taking action against Galloway. Britain only considers the military wing of Hamas to be a terrorist entity not the government in Gaza. But isn't that splitting a very fine hair? Even if Britain outright declared Hamas a terrorist organization it doesn't want to take action against Galloway because it would inflame the Muslim community or should I say threaten community harmony.

There's only one reason I believe for Galloway to be granted entry into Canada. I think Canadians who disagree with Galloway's views should have the opportunity to confront him.

Speaking of confrontation, Galloway has every intention of flying to Toronto. It will be interesting to see what Canadian authorities do with him at Pearson International Airport.

On a personal note, I once met George Galloway. I was introduced to him by Jimmy Wray, his then Parliamentary Labour Party colleague from Glasgow. In the spring of 1995 I was a parliamentary intern for Wray. The night before Jimmy and I were to depart London for Strasbourg we saw Galloway having a cigarette as we left the Houses of Parliament and spoke with him briefly. Aside from exchanging pleasantries there wasn't much of anything said between us.

If the opportunity presented itself to meet him again I would be no less cordial but far more direct and to the point with him.

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