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Kenney refuses to intervene in British MP's ban from Canada

British anti-war MP George Galloway has been deemed inadmissible to Canada on security grounds and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will not intervene to allow him entry to the country as part of his North-American speaking tour.

Galloway called the decision “irrational, inexplicable and an affront to Canada’s good name,” in a statement posted today on his website.

He said he plans to talk with organizers of the tour and explore legal options to challenge the ban. Galloway was supposed to speak in Toronto on March 30 at an event hosted by the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War.

The British parliamentarian has been an outspoken critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Canada’s involvement.

“All right-thinking Canadians, whether they agree with me over the wisdom of sending troops to Afghanistan or not, will oppose this outrageous decision,” said Galloway on his website.

Critics of the decision have said it violates freedom of speech and Canadians’ rights to hear what they want.

“The Minister of Immigration is becoming the Minister of Censorship,” said NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow in a press release.

She later told The Hook she sees the decision as part of a bigger trend of the Conservative government.

“They have a history of being afraid of people that speak out for peace,” she said in an interview.

In January, University of Illinois at Chicago professor Bill Ayers was turned back at the border. Ayers, a former member of the 1960s radical Weather Underground group, was supposed to speak at a conference in Toronto on educational reform.

And in 2007, prominent American peace activists Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright were also barred entry into Canada.

“There’s a pattern here and it’s called censorship,” Chow told The Hook.

The decision to ban Galloway was made by the Canada Border and Services Agency based on s.34(1) of the Immigration Act.

The act states:

34. (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for

(a) engaging in an act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada;

(b) engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government;

(c) engaging in terrorism;

(d) being a danger to the security of Canada;

(e) engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada; or

(f) being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c).

The law allows the immigration minister the power to intervene but Kenney has stated he will not do so.

“The responsibility lies square on the hands of the Conservative government,” Chow said.

News of Galloway’s barring comes the same week as legal and rights advocates unsuccessfully tried to bar former U.S. President George W. Bush from Canada for a speaking engagement in Calgary.

Garrett Zehr reports for The Hook.

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