Anti-war British MP drags challenges entry ban

March 26th, 2009 - 9:37 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, March 26 (IANS) A British MP, who has been banned from entering Canada for supporting terror groups and opposing US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has challenged the Canadian government action in court.
George Galloway, who was kicked out of the British Labour Party in 2003 for urging British soldiers not to fight in Iraq, has been barred from a speaking tour of Canada next week.

The government has cited his open support for Hamas - which is banned in Canada - as the reason for its action. His presence could be a threat to national security, the government said last week. But lawyers for the British MP said in Ottawa Wednesday that they are filing two petitions in court, challenging the government decision as politically motivated and seeking an immediate injunction to let Galloway travel to Canada.

In a media conference, the lawyers said the court should overturn the order and let the British continue with his four-day speaking tour of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

They said the Canadian government has barred Galloway’s entry because it does not like his support for the Palestinian cause. They said that the British MP never supported the Hamas-led government but only led a relief convoy to Gaza during the Israeli blockade. “The decision by the government is rare and unprecedented. It is stretching the interpretation (of the immigration law) to include humanitarian aid - or activities including humanitarian aid - being described as terrorist activity,” a spokesperson for the lawyers said.

But the government maintains that Galloway’s entry was banned only after the Canadian Border Services Agency told the immigration minister that Galloway could not be admitted into Canada for supporting Hamas. But the maverick MP, who is speaking in the US this week, said he was determined to speak to Canadians.

“I will come to the Canadian border and I will be heard in Canada one way or another. Whether it is by a megaphone across the (border) bridge or through the new technology that now exists,” he said after the ban was announced last week.

Galloway was in Canada two years ago on a speaking tour.

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