George Galloway banned from canada, 3 days after george bush speaks in Calgary, grossing $600,000
Anti-war British MP Galloway kept out of Canada
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Controversial British MP George Galloway has been denied admission to Canada to speak at a Toronto anti-war conference, and a spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the minister won't intervene.
"The minister will not give a special exemption from Canada's security laws to Mr. Galloway, nor will he provide special treatment to a man who brags about giving 'financial support' to Hamas, a banned terrorist organization in Canada, or who offers sympathy for Canada's enemies in Afghanistan," Alykhan Velshi told CTV News in a statement on Friday.
"I'm sure Mr. Galloway has a large Rolodex of friends in regimes elsewhere in the world willing to roll out the red carpet for him. Canada, however, won't be one of them."
Galloway was to speak at a March 30 conference called Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar, an event being put on by the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War before making other speaking stops in Mississauga, Ottawa and Montreal. He also has an American tour planned.
Galloway issued a statement saying "this idiotic ban shames Canada." He called it "a very sad day for the Canada we have known and loved.
"All right-thinking Canadians, whether they agree with me over the wisdom of sending troops to Afghanistan or not, will oppose this outrageous decision," he said. "On a personal note, for a Scotsman to be barred from Canada is like being told to stay away from the family home."
Velshi said border security officials deemed Galloway to be inadmissible under Section 34(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. That act deals with excluding those who provide material support for terrorism.
Galloway helped lead an aid convoy into the Gaza Strip after Israel's incursion there earlier this winter to take on Hamas fighters who had been launching rockets into Israel.
The Canadian Jewish Congress quickly issued a statement commending the government for its decision.
"We applaud the Canadian government for keeping George Galloway, a man who thrives on his support of terrorists, out of Canada," said CJC Co-President Sylvain Abitbol.
"George Galloway publicly brags about his moral and, in some cases financial, support for internationally recognized terrorist organizations including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban. He proudly flaunts his own nation's laws and dares Western states to prosecute him for his support of terrorists. He is clearly a risk to Canadians," he added.
B'nai Brith Canada also endorsed the govenrment's action.
Supporters of Galloway pronounced themselves outraged.
"This is a full frontal attack on free speech in Canada, and one that all supporters of civil liberties must challenge," the coalition's James Clark said in a statement.
"Kenney's ban is an unprecedented move to censor someone whose views are critical of our own government's foreign policy. We will not accept this ban, and we plan on challenging it."
In Winnipeg, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said he didn't agree with Galloway's views.
"We let into Canada all kinds of people who say ridiculous and absurd things and Galloway has said his share of ridiculous and absurd things. The issue ... is whether the security services know something about George Galloway that I don't," he said.
"The minister of immigration is becoming the minister of censorship," NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow said. "We don't have to agree with everything Mr. Galloway talks about.
"But, at bare minimum, they should be allowed to express their points of view so Canadians can make decisions themselves. This is pure censorship and it's wrong."
Galloway in Canada
Galloway has been an outspoken opponent of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. The British Labour party kicked him out in 2003 for his stance, but he won re-election in 2005 under his Respect party banner.
In 2004, Galloway won a libel case against the Daily Telegraph newspaper, which had alleged in April 2003 that Galloway had received money from the Iraqi regime of then-dictator Saddam Hussein.
Speaking at a 2005 conference in Mississauga organized by two Islamic groups, Galloway called on Canada to withdraw from Afghanistan.
"Canada has sent an army of 1,000 soldiers to occupy the Muslim country of Afghanistan (and ships to the Persian Gulf),'' Galloway said.
"Your ships in the Gulf and your soldiers in Afghanistan are doing the dirty work of George W. Bush and Tony Blair. They are freeing American ships and soldiers to go to Fallujah and massacre the people of Iraq.''
Also in 2005, a panel of U.S. senators grilled Galloway over the allegations he had accepted bribes from the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
But Galloway gave as good as he got in what many saw as a bravura performance.
"I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one, and neither has anybody on my behalf," he told then-Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.
"Now, you have nothing on me, senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad."
"I know that standards have slipped in Washington in recent years, but for a lawyer, you're remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice," Galloway said.
"I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq ... senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong."
However, the lower house of Britain's parliament suspended Galloway for 18 days in 2007 after a committee found circumstantial evidence that a charity set up by the MP had been partly funded by Hussein's regime.
Were Iraq's oil for food program funds not being held in NYC by the jews?
Four people were arrested in downtown Calgary on Tuesday during a protest outside the building where former U.S. president George W. Bush was making his first official speech since leaving office.
Two men were charged with obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest. Another man was charged with breaching the peace, while the fourth was issued a ticket for violating a public behaviour bylaw, said Duty Insp. Rob Williams of Calgary police.
Bush addressed an invitation-only crowd of about 1,500 at the Telus Convention Centre in his first speech since leaving office. Tickets were reported to cost $400 per person. Media were not allowed inside.
About 200 protesters crowded around the entrance of the convention centre in the morning, heckling ticket holders and chanting "go home."
"I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to publicly voice my displeasure with the American foreign policy" under Bush, said Jeff Gaillus, who was carrying a rod with a shoe at the end of it. "I'm not sure what he has to tell us to shed wisdom on the future of the planet."
'The criminal is inside'
One protester, who told CBC News he was "making a statement," tossed a plastic flip-flop sandal, which hit a building. Police handcuffed him and put him inside a police van, saying he was going to be ticketed. (levied?)
"What are you doing arresting that man? The criminal is inside," shouted a protester while others chanted, "Let him go."Police arrest a man in a Calgary intersection. (CBC)
Several people used shoes as props during the protest, a nod to an incident in December 2008 in which an Iraqi journalist hurled two shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad. Bush ducked, and the shoes never made contact with their target.
A lineup of people holding tickets to the event — the majority wearing business suits — stretched about two city blocks Tuesday morning, but they were inside the building by 1 p.m. MT, a delay of half an hour.
Security was tight as all guests were searched before entering the hall. Calgary police said they assigned a total of 79 officers, including traffic units, to the event.
Only 79 pigs? hey guys
Among those waiting to hear Bush speak were Senator Pamela Wallin, former Alberta energy minister Murray Smith, CBC hockey broadcaster Kelly Hrudey, former Alberta premier Ralph Klein and Calgary aldermen John Mar and Ric McIver."You might not agree with eight years of the policies of Bush… but if he is here, might as well hear what he has to say," said Paul Dhillon, who was waiting in line to go into the event.
After the almost one-hour speech and question-and-answer session, attendees said Bush was candid and warmed the crowd with self-deprecating humour, joking that Calgary was one of the few places that would have him.
"This is my maiden voyage. My first speech since I was the president of the United States, and I couldn't think of a better place to give it than Calgary, Canada," the 43rd U.S. president said to largely friendly audience.
Bush defended his reasons for invading Iraq and Afghanistan as the appropriate approach to spreading democracy.
"He said if we were in his boots in 9/11, a short time after he got in, there was a big demand to do something, and he had to react and he reacted," said George Fink, CEO of Bonterra Oil and Gas.
Bush also touched on the current economic slump, warning against too much government intervention.
"It's the risk takers, not the government, that is going to pull us out of this recession," he told the crowd. "I'm a free trader to the core."
Attendee John Owen said the address was interesting. "You get the sense that he genuinely believes in what he's saying… whether or not you believe or agree with him."