FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MARCH 20, 2009
HARPER GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO LIMIT FREE SPEECH
Minister of Censorship Jason Kenney denies entry to British MP Galloway
OTTAWA – Canadians interested in hearing international experts deliver anti-war messages will now have to leave the country to do so. British MP George Galloway, who was schedule to talk on resisting the war in Afghanistan, was banned by Harper’s Conservative government from entering Canada.
"Harper's government is wrong to bar MP George Galloway," said New Democrat Immigration Critic Olivia Chow. "Under the Harper government, the Minister of Immigration is becoming the 'Minister of Censorship'. This bunker mentality indicates a government afraid of hearing contradictory points of view," said Chow.
Minister Kenny’s reasons for denying George Galloway entry are an affront to freedom of speech and show the Harper government is frightened of an open debate on an unpopular war. A spokesperson for the Minister said Galloway is "inadmissible" to Canada due to his opposition to the deployment of NATO troops in Afghanistan.
"By the Minister's own twisted logic anyone who opposed the war in Afghanistan should be barred entry to Canada," continued Chow. "Would the Minister do the same to veteran British Conservative MP Sir Peter Tapsell, who called the war "unwinnable" and once said it was 'widely understood' that the Taliban were 'not international terrorists'?" (London Times, July 2, 2008)
"Canadians are able to make their own judgement on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, freedom of speech is critical in a democratic country," continued Chow.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has a history of banning people from Canada who do not support his views on war. In October 2007 US Peacemakers Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink and retired Colonel Ann Wright were barred from speaking at a Toronto peace conference. Similarly, distinguished educator, Professor Bill Ayers, an associate of President Obama was barred from attending a conference hosted by the University of Toronto, a day before the President's inauguration.