British MP George Galloway, long outspoken against the US-led occupation and invasion of Iraq, will have some strong words for Canadians tonight. Galloway is in Canada to speak to audiences in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
If Canada wants to be perceived as a force for peace in the world, it must withdraw troops from Afghanistan, repair ties with the Palestinians and let American war resisters seek refuge here, says British MP George Galloway. "Canada cannot be described as neutral," the maverick politician told the Toronto Star in a preview of the message he'll deliver tonight to a Toronto audience.

"Of course it's not playing as pernicious a role as Britain but neither is it seen in the theatres of conflict as benign as Canadian people like to think it is.

"You're killing people in Afghanistan, which is a problem in itself, and it's compounded by the fact that by you killing them in Afghanistan, you're releasing the Americans to go and kill people in Iraq," said Galloway, one of the most outspoken critics on the war in Iraq. . . .

Canada's Afghan mission, which he calls an "illegitimate military occupation," involves 2,500 troops stationed there and has killed 43 Canadians.

It is an "an absolute scandalous disgrace," that Canadians are "fighting for democracy in Afghanistan while starving Palestinians because they democratically elected a government (Canada) does not like."

Galloway's comments stem from Canada's decision earlier this year to cut funding to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority.

That meant a suspension of $7.3 million, nearly one-third of the $25 million a year Canada spends on aid in the West Bank and Gaza.

And Canada's poor record on granting war resisters refugee status dispels the myth that Canada is a haven, critics say. According to the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto, 32 Americans have applied for refugee status in Canada.

A few have been withdrawn but all that have proceeded to the Immigration and Refugee Board have been denied.

Galloway pulled no punches when discussing Britain and the United States's war on Iraq, which has grown "incomparably worse" and is sending Iraq "down the slope to total disintegration." And if the political climate in Lebanon continues to heat up it could plunge that country into another civil war, he said.

"All these flashpoints, all these powder kegs have all got fuses burning furiously towards new and bigger explosions," said Galloway, adding the war against terror is simply generating more terror.

Withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq would "drain the swamp of hatred" that has fuelled terror attacks in the West. But instead, he said, "we're watering it with new blood every day."
When Galloway speaks tonight, I hope the Liberals will be listening. If they choose someone other than Michael Ignatieff as their leader, and then win the next election - and if we make enough noise - perhaps we will see some change.

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