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December 10, 2009

George Galloway vs. Jason Kenney

The Canadian Charger

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"British MP George Galloway has recently won an important victory against Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney in the Federal Court of Canada," said James Clark in an interview with The Canadian Charger.

Galloway“British MP George Galloway has recently won an important victory against Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney in the Federal Court of Canada,” said James Clark in an interview with The Canadian Charger.

On October 31, 2009, the court announced that it would hear a judicial review of Mr. Kenney’s decision to ban Mr. Galloway from entering Canada for a speaking tour.  The court is expected to issue a final decision in January 2010.

Clark, a member of the Defend Free Speech Committee said the significance of this development should not be underestimated.

“Only about 10 to 15 per cent of all cases ever make it to the court so this (court's decision) indicates that the court considers the complaint legitimate.

Because they believe Canadian's right to free speech hangs in the balance, the Defend Free Speech Campaign is attempting to raise $20,000 for legal costs by December 21. 

Mr. Clark said that until now Toronto based lawyers Barbara Jackman and Hadayt Nazami have been working on the case pro-bono, and they plan to continue working for free; but there are still numerous court costs which must be covered as the case proceeds.

“The anti-war movement wants our lawyers to have all the resources they need. It's really important for all Canadian to be involved. It's much more than an issue of whether or not George Galloway can enter Canada. It about whether Canadians can criticize their government without retribution and censorship. If they can't, this jeopardizes free speech in Canada.”

Mr. Clark said the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War (in Afghanistan) was surprised that Mr. Kenney intervened to prevent Mr. Galloway from entering Canada because it would have been the third or fourth time he has given speeches in Canada and, although he was barred from Canada, he spent two weeks speaking to audiences in major cities throughout the United States.

On March 19, 2009 Mr. Kenney prohibited Mr. Galloway from entering Canada.

In a March 20, 2009 letter to Mr. Galloway from the High Commission of Canada, Immigration Programme Manager Robert Orr said, “This letter confirms the preliminary assessment of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that you are inadmissable to Canada” followed by the reasons why:

“Among other possible grounds of inadmissibility under section 34 of the IRPA (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act), Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization in Canada. There are reasonable grounds to believe you have provided financial support for Hamas. Specifically, we have 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. Your material support for this organization makes you inadmissible to Canada.”

In their reply to Mr. Orr's letter, Mr. Galloway's Canadian lawyers Barbara Jackman and Hadayt Nazami, said it's unusual for a person who is not required to obtain a visa prior to arriving at a Canadian port of entry to receive a letter and, even more so for Immigration officials to “rely” on a CBSA opinion.

Moreover, Ms. Jackman and Mr. Nazami said in their reply that the terrorism inadmissibility provision in the IRPA was not meant to permit Canadian officials to sanction individuals because they do not share their beliefs.

“Mr. Harper and Mr. Kenney are involved in the operation of the government of Canada, not the Conservative Party. As such their actions ought to be measured, rational and objective, consistent with their obligation to represent the interests of all Canadians. The decision to exclude Mr. Galloway from Canada because he participated in the symbolic gesture of bringing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people of Gaza is a political decision. It is perverse and we believe constitutes an abuse of power.”

They also stressed that the aid convoy Mr. Galloway donated consisted of aid donated by groups and individuals in an act of solidarity with the people of Gaza.

“The Viva Palestina website indicates that the efforts were directed towards assisting the Palestinian people of Gaza, that a number of organizations, including Stop the War Coalition, the Anglo-Arab Organization, several British trade unions and a large number of Muslim organizations were involved, and that the aid sent to Gaza was for Palestinian people, not any faction.”

Mr. Clark said Mr. Galloway has publicly provided evidence showing that the $1.5 million he donated was humanitarian aid, the vast majority of which was used for food, medical equipment and health care.

“The government was given the aid,” Mr. Clark said. “Hamas just happens to be the government. It would be the same thing if a country donated aid to Canada. They would be giving it to the government, not the Conservative party.”

He added that the Canadian government shouldn't be hiding behind the war on terror to keep Mr. Galloway out of Canada.

“The government should not be intervening and censoring people that a peace organization has invited to speak in Canada. This is an issue of free speech and civil liberties.”

For more info log on: http://www.defendfreespeech.ca.

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