George Galloway: leaked papers reveal Canada’s torment over banning MP – George Galloway’s lawyers will argue that the Respect party MP is not a threat to Canada’s national security
Documents leaked today reveal the contortions the Canadian government went through over its decision last year to ban the British MP George Galloway.
The leak, on a Canadian website, comes just days before the start of a court case in Toronto in which Galloway and his supporters will seek to overturn the ban which has turned the British MP into a cause célèbre.
Galloway was banned from entering Canada to speak round the country on the Middle East and Afghanistan. The government claimed it was acting on national security grounds because he had provided material support to the Palestinian organisation, Hamas, which is proscribed in the country as a terrorist organisation.
Galloway’s defence team will argue in the federal court on Monday that he poses no threat to national security. Although he took a convoy of aid to Gaza, which is controlled by the elected Hamas government, his lawyers will say that he is neither a member, or supporter, of Hamas, and that, in fact, he has been a lifelong supporter of Hamas’s rivals, Fatah, which is not branded a terrorist organisation.
The 66 pages of emails and letters, covering the four days up to the ban and available at rabble.ca, reveal how opinion within the government was deeply divided over the decision.
One of the documents, written by the Canadian high commissioner in London, Jim Wright, cautioned against the ban. “There is no question that George Galloway is outspoken and, while extremely clever and media savvy, is not taken seriously in the UK. Denying him entry to Canada will simply give him a greater platform.”
Wright said he had not been involved in the discussions about the grounds for the ban. “However, my suspicion is that the Brits will be somewhat taken aback by such a Canadian decision,” he said, adding that it would look odd that Canada was banning him while the US was not.
The correspondence reveals almost comic attempts to establish the MP’s whereabouts amid concern that he might arrive at the US-Canada border and be allowed through by a border guard unaware of the ban. Galloway’s supporters said the documents also suggest there was political interference in what should have been a matter purely for civil servants.
Galloway, who is standing for election in Poplar and Limehouse for the Respect party, said today he was confident the ban would be overturned.
“The Canadian government is not as it was. It has become the most pro-Israel government in the world. The fact that a British MP of 23 years’ standing can travel in and out of the US but not be allowed into Canada is simply ridiculous,” he said.
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