A Scottish member of the UK Parliament has a message for Canada’s minister of immigration.
“Come out and debate with me like a man,” George Galloway thundered Monday night from New York City as a church full of supporters cheered him on in Toronto.
Via video link, Galloway breached a ban imposed on him by the Canada Border Services agency, backed by the federal government, to speak to an audience of hundreds who’d gathered at the Metropolitan United Church downtown.
Earlier in the day a federal judge rejected the outspoken MP’s petition to have the ban overturned.
Jason Kenney, the minister of immigration, said Galloway had not be allowed to enter the country because he had given $45,000 in aid to Hamas, the Palestinian political group considered to be a terrorist organization by the federal government. Last week Galloway had been stopped at the border as he tried to enter the country.
Galloway has denied the accusation, claiming that the money was intended for impoverished Palestinians suffering at the hands of Israeli aggression in Gaza.
According to the main organizer for the event, the decision to ban Galloway resulted in far more interest for the talk and exposure of the plight of the Palestinians.
James Clark, of the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, said that the speech was broadcast in over 20 Canadian cities, as well in Greece and the U.S, an irony not lost on Galloway.
“Thanks to technology and (the efforts of) James Clark, (people) all over the world now will hear what I have to say,” Galloway said.
In his hour-long speech Galloway ridiculed Kenney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper and questioned the motivations behind the ban.
“It is not credible to call a five-time MP a terrorist threat,” Galloway said. “It must have been a surprise to the Speaker of the (British) House of Commons to have been harbouring a terrorist for the last 23 years.”
In his court decision, Justice Luc Martineau stated that while Galloway had made a case to bypass Canada’s anti-terrorism law preventing him from coming to Canada, an injunction wasn’t warranted.
The court’s ruling troubled legal expert Omar Ha-Redeye.
“If a British MP can indefinitely detained on these grounds, any visitor to Canada can,” he wrote.
Galloway vociferously denied that he supported Hamas, saying that his decision to provide aid to the group during the recent Israeli occupation of Gaza was only because they were the governing power in the region, and that his actions were “what any NGO would have done.”
“Is giving nappies to babies terrorism?” he asked. “Because that’s why I have been banned.”
Opponents of Galloway applauded the court’s decision.
“Canada must not be regarded as a piggybank for international terrorist financiers like George Galloway,” Canadian Jewish Congress co-president Sylvain Abitbol said.
For Galloway and his supporters, however, the battle is not over.
“I’m on standby. The minute you think this ban can be broken I will grab my toothbrush, head to Heathrow and fly to Toronto to be there with you,” he said.
Filed by Rahul Gupta