statement from george galloway on harper govt denying him entry into canada

From George Galloway, to the people of Canada, via Toronto Coalition to Stop the War:

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March 20, 2009

The Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney gazetted in Rupert Murdoch's Sun yesterday morning that I was to be excluded from his country because of my views on Afghanistan. That's the way the right-wing last-ditch dead-enders of Bushism in Ottawa conduct their business. At least for now. The upcoming elections in the country look set to follow the trend set by their neighbour to the south.

Kenney is quite a card, almost a joker in fact. A quick trawl establishes he's a gay-baiter, gung-ho armchair warrior, with an odd habit of exceeding his immigration brief. Three years ago he attacked the pro-Western prime minister of Lebanon Fuad Saniora for being ungrateful to Canada for its support of Israeli bombardment of his country. Most curiously of all in 2006 he addressed a rally of the so called People's Mujahideen of Iran, a Waco-style cult, banned in the European Union as a terrorist organization with a penchant for encouraging impressionable young members to self-immolate in public places.

While on one level being banned by such a man is like being told to sit up straight by the hunchback of Notre Dame or being lectured on due diligence by Lord Conrad Black ­ a Kenney ally, now breaking stones in the hot sun. On another, and personal, note for a Scotsman to be excluded from Canada is like being turned away from the family home.

But what are my views on Afghanistan which the Canadian government (for we must assume cabinet responsibility) does not want its people to hear?

I've never been to Afghanistan, nor have I ever met a Taliban, but my first impression into the parliamentary vellum on the subject was more than two decades ago. At the time the fathers of the Taliban were "freedom fighters" paraded at US Republican and British Tory party conferences. Who knows, maybe even the Canadian right extolled these god-fearing opponents of Communism. I did not however.

On the eve of their storming of Kabul I told Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that she "had opened the gates to the barbarians" and that "a long, dark night would now descend upon the people of Afghanistan". How long and how dark, as George Bush might have put it, I misunderestimated.

But with the same conviction I say to the Canadian and other NATO governments today that your current policy is equally a profound mistake. From time to time and with increased regularity it is a crime. Like the bombardment of wedding parties and even funerals or the presiding over a record opium crop which under our noses finds its way coursing through the veins of young people from Nova Scotia to Newcastle upon Tyne. But it is worse than a crime, as Tallyrand said, it's a blunder.

The Afghans have never succumbed to foreign occupation, heaven knows the British Empire tried, tried and failed again. Not even Alexander the Great succeeded, and whoever else he is, minister Kenney is no Alexander the Great. Young Canadian soldiers are dying in significant numbers on Afghanistan¹s plains. Their families are entitled to know how many of us believe this adventure to be similarly doomed and that genuine support for the troops ­ British, Canadian and other ­ means bringing them home, changing course and that an alternative policy exists, the debate around which they above all deserve to hear and judge for themselves.

For a G7 government to ban a five times elected British parliamentarian from addressing public events or keeping my appointment with some of their flagship television and radio programmes is quite a serious matter. Few would have guessed that the kinder, gentler Canada of Jonie Mitchell's lyricism would have been the villain of such a piece. Canada's conservatives have certainly paved free speech and put up a parody of liberty.

Minister Kenney's "spokesman" says in his gazette, otherwise known as the Sun, "Galloway's not coming in - end of story."

Alas for him, it's not. Canada remains a free country governed by law and my friends are even now seeking a judicial review of his decision. The Canadian people will speak soon about the whole conduct of the war and the economy by the neo-con administration he graces. And above all there are other ways I can address those Canadians who wish to hear me ­ greater in number now and including those who positively disagree with what I have to say.

More than half a century ago Paul Robeson, one of the greatest men who ever lived, was forbidden to enter Canada not by Ottawa but by Washington, which had taken away his passport. But he was still able to transfix a vast crowd of Vancouver's mill hands and miners with a 17 minute telephone concert culminating in a rendition of the Ballad of Joe Hill.

Technology has moved on since then. And so from coast to coast, minister Kenney notwithstanding, I will be heard ­- one way or another.

George Galloway MP


redsock said...

right-wing last-ditch dead-ender ... he's a gay-baiter, gung-ho armchair warrior

This kicks all kinds of ass!

L-girl said...

Galloway kicks all kinds of ass regularly. From this statement, this is my personal fave:

While on one level being banned by such a man is like being told to sit up straight by the hunchback of Notre Dame or being lectured on due diligence by Lord Conrad Black

L-girl said...

Plus he mentioned Joni!!! swoon

Rockford said...

So much for conservatives claiming to be for free speech. A recent article by Ulli Diemer, "Free speech as long as it doesn't offend anyone" nicely uncovers this kind of attitude. The article is at

L-girl said...

"Free speech as long as it doesn't offend anyone"

I disagree. It's "free speech as long as it doesn't offend Conservatives". The Conservatives are perfectly happy with free speech when it offends people they don't like.

Cornelia said...

I don't agree with everything Mr. Galloway says, but Kenney is a bully and getting ridiculous and more and more abusive. And yeah, Mr. Galloway will be heard, spite Kenney's attempts at censorship. Isn't it fun we have the net and phones and other great technical assets? Does Kenney think he can really make people believe what he tells them? And I really enjoyed it when Mr. Galloway said that Kenney is kind of a joker, or something. Whenever I want to take it on somebody, I know at least one person to email then, haha!!!

Cornelia said...

Whenever I want to take it on somebody, I know at least one person to email then, haha!!!

Sorry I meant take it out on somebody...

And yeah, he got his "fan post" again and heard from me on the issue, too, haha:

Dear Mr. Kenney,

I must say I am very surprised that you denied Mr. Galloway entry into Canada. Of course you need not agree with his views (I don't agree with all of them either, personally) but why are you having issues with his coming to Canada and making his speech? I really wonder what your problem is because you needn't show up and listen to Galloway's speech. Everybody can decide for themselves whether to attend or not so people who don't enjoy him and who think that listening to him wouldn't be fun can keep away. Because you say that you know democracy is good, may I enlighten you some more to how it practically works? You are no longer at school and I may assume that you are not in an abusive relationship or context or situation where you are being bullied so you needn't go during your free time to events that are obviously no fun for you at all. Remember, if somebody said it would be important to go there as part of your job, you could always have something else scheduled and presented as urgent.
And no worries, just because Galloway gets on your nerves tremendously, you needn't fear he might cause problems for Canadian National Security!

Cornelia Maier

That was fun, hey!!!