George Galloway, a former member of the British Parliament who was refused entry to Canada for a year-and-a-half has announced he is planning on suing Canadian Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney as well as the Canadian government for damaging his reputation.
Galloway was active in British Parliament and is known for his opinions on the Palestine-Israel conflict, for which he is a supporter of the Palestinian side that also holds anti-war views.
In March of 2009, while Galloway was on a lecture tour that had planned stops at a number of Universities in major cities across Canada, he was informed by the Canada Border Services Agency that he was banned from the country. The reason was his recent donation of GBP$ 25,000 to a Palestinian aid group governed by Hamas, which is on the Canadian list of terrorist organizations. Galloway is also currently banned in Egypt for similar reasons related to the Palestine-Israel conflict.
A judge overturned the ban this week, and Galloway held a press conference at which he stated that his lawyers were in the middle of preparing paperwork to launch a lawsuit against Kenney and the Canadian government for damaging his reputation.
“Jason Kenney, you can run but you can’t hide,” he said, “let me make this clear, I am not, nor have I ever been a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism or any kind of a security threat to Canada. But I think I am a threat to Jason Kenney’s political career, and I intend to continue to be so until he’s gone.”
Immigration Regulations give the Minister the power to refuse entry persons who have criminal records, are members of a designated terrorist organization and have certain medical issues. However, in the case of Galloway and his alleged activities in fund raising for Hamas and giving lectures in support of the Palestinian cause, make a “hard case” for denying him entry.
Clearly, if this was just a case of speech alone, I do not think the CBSA has grounds for refusing Galloway to Canada. Just because the majority of Canadians may find his “rantings” offensive, is no reason to censor him or restrict his mobility. We live in a democracy. However, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that he took action beyond speech towards helping Hamas, that is another story.
The facts here are not that clear and perhaps Canada rushed to judgment in Galloway’s case and now the predicable backlash is in full force. And so being denied entry to Canada was the best thing to happen to Galloway who is now more popular than ever.