The Banning of a Sitting British Member of ParliamentMarch 22, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Politics | Leave a comment
British MP George Galloway has been banned from Canada for “security reasons”. He was to speak Monday, March 30, at a Toronto conference called Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar, hosted by the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, and at a public forum the following day in nearby Mississauga. Galloway was expelled from the Labour party in 2003 after publicly lashing out against British involvement in the Iraq war. Labour party officials said Galloway’s comments “incited foreign forces to rise up against British troops.” He later helped form the anti-war Respect party.
Reactions? Who likes it ? Who does not like it?
- MY BLAHG:”The Minister of McCarthyism, Jason ‘scurry in a hurry’ Kenney, strikes again.”
- Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff:
“If he is being barred on free speech grounds that is an outrage,” said Ignatieff. “He can come to Canada and talk rubbish all day long as far as I’m concerned.”
But Ignatieff said Canadian security officials may know something he doesn’t.
“If there is a security threat, that is another matter,”
Minister Kenny’s reasons for denying George Galloway entry are an affront to freedom of speech and show the Harper government is frightened of an open debate on an unpopular war.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has a history of banning people from Canada who do not support his views on war. In October 2007 US Peacemakers Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink and retired Colonel Ann Wright were barred from speaking at a Toronto peace conference.
- B’nai Brith: “We applaud the government for its explicit recognition that individuals who glorify terrorism and promote hatred be denied access into Canada,” – B’nai Brith’s executive vice-president, Frank Dimant.
- Canadian Jewish Congress:”George Galloway enables terrorism. In so doing he puts Canadian civilians at risk and comforts those who fight our soldiers in Afghanistan. The government’s decision was the right one from legal, security and moral viewpoints.” – Bernie Farber, CEO of the CJC
This is an objectionable abrogation of free speech principles for which we in Canada are supposed to stand. Galloway has been to Canada before, in 2006, and has addressed the U.S. congress. Suddenly elevating him to threat status is suspect.
If there is specific evidence of a security threat, they have failed to articulate it, citing newspaper reports instead (watch Velshi video here).
- Blast Furnace:”He’s a loudmouth, to be certain, but he poses no threat to Canada’s national security. He threatens our law and order as much as Don Cherry threatens club-level ice hockey in Europe.”
- Scott’s DiaTribes:
Banning people from traveling here because the Conservatives don’t like what they have to say sets a dangerous precedent (and I don’t buy the “national security reasons” excuse that was used to bar him). It’s not the first time this government has done this either; you might recall that Professor Bill Ayers, the former Weatherman supporter and friend/acquaintance of President Obama, was banned from traveling here because our government didn’t like what he did 40 years ago, even though he has moved on from that past. The government has been showing a distressing tendency to play Big Brother of late with visitors who oppose their point of view.
- Canadian Cynic:”So, George Galloway gets barred, while George W. gets a limo to the Telus Centre. Raise your hand if you didn’t see that coming.”
- Ezra Levant:
I suspect it has to do with his track record of providing financial assistance to terrorist groups like Hamas, which is listed as a criminal organization in Canada. It would not surprise me if CSIS determined that Galloway’s visit would have had fundraising or recruiting spin-offs for Hamas or other terrorist groups. I’m sure Galloway himself would boast of those activities. (UPDATE: I am advised that, in fact, his planned speaking engagement at a Toronto church was to raise funds for Hamas.)
The cabinet minister in charge of immigration, Jason Kenney, could exercise his ministerial discretion and override his officials, but given Kenney’s zero-tolerance policy towards anti-Semitism, that’s a non-starter.
This case is an interesting intersection between free speech and national sovereignty and security.
Galloway is not a Canadian citizen; he does not have a right to come to Canada (nor any other rights guaranteed to our citizens). He would be a guest, and he is being turned away for security reasons.
Were he a citizen, he would have the right to spout his bigotry in Canada (but not to engage in material support for terrorists, which is a crime.) If he were a citizen, he would be allowed back home, and arrested for his crimes.
I don’t see this as a free speech issue; I see it as a sovereignty issue — keeping out an undesirable foreigner who has no right to be here, and who boasts about violating our criminal code.
- Boris @ Galloping Beaver:
If Mr. Galloway is or was actually providing support for terrorism in mind and material, the UK has plenty of laws through which to prosecute him. I don’t even know what to say about the issue of banning an elected MP from very friendly country. Apparently Conservative Party trust in the jurisprudence and governance of other democratic countries extends only so far as they are willing to execute Canadians and the ideological compatibility of their politicians.
- Jay Currie:
Free speech, if it means anything, means allowing the most offensive people to speak right up to the point that they actually incite violence. George Galloway is incapable of inciting the proverbial chicken to cross the road. He poses no actual threat to anyone. That he advocates for Canada’s enemies is, indeed, offensive but it is not a reason to deny him entry to Canada.
“All right-thinking Canadians, whether they agree with me over the wisdom of sending troops to Afghanistan or not, will oppose this outrageous decision.
“On a personal note – for a Scotsman to be barred from Canada is like being told to stay away from the family home.
“This is not something I’m prepared to accept.”
And what does Moose think? Let him in; let him speak, but follow the money trail. If he is raising money to support Hamas, then expose him. Draw attention to his tactics and make sure that there are a million eyes upon him. If need be, hit him with a douchebag tax before he leaves the county.
- Sunday Religion Roundup – Canada, Israel, and of course the U.S.
- Rep. Leadership Crisis, Australia’s Censorship, Obama Takes Responsibility, War Resistor Statement, and Barney Frank is Cool
- Laneway Housing, No Car Smoking with Child Present, and Police Propose New Drug Strategy