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As it turned out, Mr. Galloway, the British MP’s plight for entering Canada ended yesterday as Federal Court Judge Marineau upheld the decision by Canada Immigration to deny his entry to Canada for speaking engagements.
The Court found that Mr. Galloway would not suffer “irreparable harm” as a result of Canada Immigration’s decision to refuse his entry to Canada. Further, the Court held that since the MP had not actually attempted to enter Canada by appearing at our borders, a final decision on his inadmissibility was not made.
In my view, the Court in its decision, took the pragmatic path, taking a narrow, technical approach to a case where larger democratic principles of free speech and mobility rights could have been upheld. Yes, it is true that “technically” Mr. Galloway himself may not have suffered irreparable harm in not being able to come to Canada to speak. In fact, he was able to address a much wider audience via video conference from New York than he would have had he been admitted to Canada. (Another illustration of the futility of censorship: The controversy popularized his cause and video technology delivered his message.)
And yes, it may also be the case that the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has not had the opportunity to deny his entry to Canada and detain him at a Canada port of entry in order for there to be “final decision” on his admissibility to Canada .
However, there are larger issues at stake here and the Court should have taken the high road. This case now sets a ominous precedent for the government to bar entry to Canada to anyone it deems undesirable in terms of political opinion. As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, there is no debate about the questionable moral character of Mr. Galloway who sympathies clearly lie with anti-Israel causes. But it is the very essence of a free and democratic society that it is able to tolerate such persons while not endorsing their views.
While the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies only to Canadian citizens or permanent residence in terms of freedom of speech and mobility rights, the ability of the Canadian government to deny entry to Canada to foreign nationals who are not criminals nor terrorists, is concerning. After all, the United States, a country vilified by Hamas and other terrorist organizations, admitted Mr. Galloway where he was able to exercise his freedom of speech. That is democracy in action. Canada, sadly did not make the grade.
Now the only remedy for Mr. Galloway to enter Canada is to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) which, if approved, would allow him to enter Canada as an inadmissible person. Given the Court’s decision, I do not see Mr. Galloway being a likely candidate for a TRP. I guess he will have to continue to address his Canadian audience and beyond by video. I am sure YouTube is ready and willing to oblige.