George Galloway's banned speech to be shown at UofG
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Canada made headlines around the globe last week with the Harper government’s decision to ban British MP George Galloway from entering Canada citing reasons of “national security”. Galloway is a poster-child of the international peace movement but is considered highly controversial by many people on the right of the political spectrum. This story will take on a local dimension next week, as the Guelph Peace Alliance has announced it will be providing a live-feed of Galloway giving the lecture he was planning on giving in Toronto. The Toronto lecture was scheduled for next Monday March 30th, but this will not be allowed unless a legal challenge is successful in overturning the ban on Galloway's entry.
The Scottish MP has been very vocal in denouncing aggression on the part of Western governments towards the Arab World. In 2003 he was expelled from Tony Blair’s Labour Party for encouraging British soldiers to refuse deployment to Iraq. He then formed his own anti-war “RESPECT” party and won re-election in 2005.
The Government of Canada’s position has been that a recent trip by Galloway to the Palestinian territory of Gaza, in order to deliver humanitarian aid, meant that he had provided funding to Hamas, which is an organization that the Canadian government classifies as terrorist. Galloway’s supporters point out that the Member of Parliament’s trip was a humanitarian mission to provide resources to the Hamas-led, democratically-elected government of Gaza.
The decision taken by Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, to ban Galloway’s entry into Canada has prompted a wave of protest within Canada. He was scheduled to do a speaking tour of major Canadian cities on the topic of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan. These events were organized by local peace coalitions made up of church, labour and activist groups, who then quickly mounted a campaign to overturn Minister Kenney’s decision. They have filed an emergency injunction in Ontario federal court seeking to overturn Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s entry ban, the result of which should be known by this Friday (March 27th). If this motion fails, the organizers of what has become a campaign for <“free speech”>http://defendfreespeech.ca/home.htm are preparing a delegation of Canadian MPs, lawyers and activists to escort Galloway from the United States into Canada on Monday morning. If this attempt to bring Galloway in fails, the MP will make his speech from New York and it will be broadcast across Canada by local Peace groups.
Locally, the Guelph Peace Alliance (GPA) is preparing to show the lecture next Monday. The group has stated that although Galloway is not a citizen of Canada, his ban is still a violation of Canadians’ freedom of speech and our “right” to hear criticisms of Canadian foreign policy. Rami Alhamad, a member of the GPA, told thecannon.ca:
“We refuse to trade our freedom for our “protection” and reject the argument that we as Canadians will be less secure if MP George Galloway visits Canada to speak, just like he has done many times in the past. As Canadians, we have the right to hear MP George Galloway speak about his involvement in the VIVA PALESTINA lifeline mission to Gaza, and to also hear his criticism of our country's involvement in Afghanistan. It is only through self-reflection that we as a nation can grow and as long as we refuse entry to people based on their opinion, we'll never move forward.”
The live-feed of the speech will be shown in UC 442 on Monday March 30th at 7pm. The GPA can be reached at