4.22.2010

george galloway vs jason kenney: monday april 26 in toronto

After the Harper Government banned UK MP George Galloway from Canada last year, Galloway and his Canadian supporters filed a suit challenging that decision. This Monday, April 26, the Federal Court of Canada will hear arguments by lawyers representing Galloway and the organizers of his 2009 speaking tour. Galloway's legal team will be joined by lawyers representing the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), which has been granted leave to intervene in the case.

There have been some developments in this court case that are just delicious. Thanks to some Government bureaucratic bungling, the Galloway team learned exactly what went on behind the scenes that led to Galloway being banned. I heard about this months ago but didn't know enough details to blog about it. Now Rabble is running a terrific two-part series on the case. Here's a taste.
Galloway and his supporters launched a court action against the government when he was barred from entering Canada in March 2009 after being invited to give four lectures in Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa and Montreal. The aim was to overturn the ban.

To their surprise, a 66-page dossier of important internal government emails, memos, and letters relating to the case was mistakenly mailed to them in Nov. 2009.

These items were of particular importance to the Respondents -- Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and Peter Van Loan, then Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, who was responsible for the Canadian Border Services Agency.

The documents primarily covered a four-day period, from March 16 to March 20, 2009, when bureaucrats in Ottawa and London hurried to build the case against Galloway. Initially, the haste was due to a need to have an official decision in place before the proposed start date of his Canadian visit, March 30. But on March 20, the British tabloid The Sun splashed with the exclusive that Galloway was banned. This was prior to the man himself being informed, and the officials acted even more quickly as they attempted to limit the damage.

This was especially important to them as it seemed possible that since the publication of the story took place before Galloway himself was informed, Canada's Privacy laws might have been broken.

To have such information was, of course, a godsend to Galloway's legal team, providing an important outline of the inner workings of the bureaucratic machine that made the ban possible.

The dossier also showed that Minister Kenney's director of communications, Alykhan Velshi, had been the apparent initiator of the investigation into Galloway's visit to Canada, and was in direct contact with the bureaucrats responsible for Galloway's case in the run-up to the banning, placing pressure and praise on them where appropriate.

It will not surprise you to learn that the Government attempted to redact all 66 pages of this giant oops by pleading - altogether now - national security. Fortunately the judge wasn't buying.

Read more: Part I: Court documents put spotlight on minister in banning of British MP, and Part II: National security claim rejected by judge in bid to redact Galloway emails, both by Cathryn Atkinson.

If you're in Toronto, there will be a rally outside Federal Court by supporters of free speech and those who believe George Galloway - and others who speak out in dissent - should be allowed in Canada. The hearing is open to the general public and media, and supporters are welcome to attend.

WHEN:
Monday, April 26, 2010
Rally 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. (outside)
Hearing 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (inside)

WHERE:
Federal Court Building
180 Queen Street West
TTC: Osgoode / Public parking on Queen Street West

Solidarity rallies will be held the same day, on April 26, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Federal Court Buildings all across Canada. Rallies are currently being planned in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton and other communities. For more information about local rallies, please visit Defend Free Speech.

If you want to organize a rally in your community, email defendfreespeech.ca at gmail.com.

Facebook: Let Him Speak: Allow George Galloway To Speak In Canada