Senior government officials, including Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, acted unfairly, with political bias and an intent to punish George Galloway and his supporters when they banned the controversial British MP from Canada last year, lawyers for a coalition of groups opposed to the ban told a Federal Court hearing Wednesday.
“There was no threat to national security,” said Hadayt Nazami, who is working with human rights and immigration lawyer Barbara Jackman for the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War and other groups who had organized Galloway’s 2009 Canadian speaking tour.
Nazami and Jackman argued that the decision to bar Galloway from the country was made by senior officials in the Immigration and Public Safety Ministries because they did not agree with Galloway’s views on the Afghanistan war.
Galloway, a controversial anti-war politician, was supposed to make a four-city Canadian speaking tour in March 2009, but was barred from the country for allegedly providing financial and material support for Hamas, the political and paramilitary group that governs Gaza and is denounced by Canada and several other countries as a terrorist organization.
He was allowed into the U.S. last year, ended up addressing Canadian audiences from New York City via a video link.
“This was clearly an exercise in taunting Mr. Galloway by senior levels of government,” Jackman said.
The lawyers argued the government’s decision to ban Galloway was inconsistent with immigration policy and politically motivated. It also infringed on Canadians’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly by preventing them from hearing Galloway speak.
“Freedom to speak and freedom to hear are inseparable,” Jackman told Justice Mosley.
Jackman said while Galloway is not a Canadian citizen, he is still entitled to fair treatment by immigration officials, regardless of his political opinions, and if Canada is to follow its own laws, Galloway must be allowed to enter and speak in Canada.
Labelling the polarizing politician a terrorist is a misuse of Canada’s anti-terror laws, Jackman said.
“When our parliament passed that legislation it was to protect our country from people who throw bombs, not people who buy incubators,” she said, referring to the medical supplies Galloway’s envoy delivered to Hamas.
Government lawyers will make their arguments when court resumes Wednesday afternoon.
Galloway’s 2009 envoy mission to Gaza was humanitarian in nature, and does not make him a member of Hamas or complicit in their paramilitary activities, Jackman argued, noting that Canada also provided aid to the region after it was attacked by Israel.
“If in fact Mr. Galloway is a terrorist for providing aid to the elected government of Gaza, then our Prime Minister is as well.”
The Conservative government says it regards Galloway as a security threat based on allegations he provided humanitarian goods and $35,000 in aid money to Hamas when he led an envoy to Gaza in February 2009.
In upholding the ban last year, the federal court judge cited a letter written to Galloway by Canada’s high commission in London that cited “information that indicates you organized a convoy worth over one million British pounds in aid and vehicles, and personally donated vehicles and financing to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.”
Galloway, who denied supporting terrorism, has argued he could only show his support for people in Gaza by dealing with its elected Hamas government. An MP for 23 years, Galloway was expelled from Britain’s Labour Party in 2003 for urging British soldiers not to fight in Iraq.
I guess every one who donates or is a member of the United Nations is also guilty of helping those in Gaza. Boy that would be a long list of folks to bar from Canada. Canada would have to bar all Canadians as well.
Well now that is interesting isn’t it. How foolish to bar George from Canada. George is a good man.
George a terrorist now that’s funny. Somehow I don’t see any connection to him being a terrorist.
Well if there was ever a terrorist one must say is a wonderful man, it would be George. Yup George is my kind of terrorist for sure.
Talk about a total abuse of power by the Canadian Government officials who did this. Shame on them. They should be charged with a few crimes.
It does make one wonder when they use the word “terrorist” what it really means.
If George is considered a terrorist then so are billions of others who have helped or spoken in favor of those in Gaza.
So there must be a few billion terrorists in the world and most of those billions are like George Galloway. Awesome. Take pride in being a Terrorist my friends seems they are the “Good Guys”.
Gives the word a whole new meaning doesn’t it?
I guess if you support someone like George Galloway you too are also considered a terrorist.
Oh my God I just realized I am a terrorist too. How profound.
The lesson we can learn from this is just because some one in Government calls someone a terrorist does not make it true.
One has to wonder how many people have been accused of being a Terrorist, but are simply just very nice respectable people.
Many Canadians were furious with the Canadian Government over this incident, so I guess since they supported George they too are also terrorists as well…. Imagine that.
I do hope the Legal system in Canada does see fit, to have those responsible for this outrageous action prosecuted.
They are the real criminals in all of this.
George is the victim, as is the freedom of Speech in Canada.
If Israel would remove the blockade none of this would be happening.
The people in Gaza do not have what most take from Granted in their live. Enough food, clothing, medical care etc. The list is very long.
The most ridiculous thing Israel has done is ban shoes from Gaza.
Finally last month they allowed shoes into Gaza. Now is that not a bit strange, to ban shoes of all things. You really have to wonder about a countries Government, when they do something so utterly insane.
Imagine your country without shoes for three years.
Canada’s Freedom Of speech is under attack. The Canadian Government need to be told in no uncertain terms, that Canadians Freedom of Speech is not negotiable..
Without “Freedom of Speech” the country it is no longer a “Free Country”. It would become, just anther Dictatorship Country.
The Israeli Lobby Groups should be banned from all countries in my opinion, not good people Like George Galloway.