Have Jason Kenney and the Conservative government simply lost their minds?
News broke today that Kenney has denied entry to British MP George Galloway, who is about to embark on a speaking tour in Canada.
The buzz about Galloway's North American tour has been growing strong across the social media sphere and activist circles. That Canada would ban Galloway seemed like an Internet hoax, when I first heard it, so I called Alykhan Velshi, MP Kenney's Director of Communications, this morning for confirmation. He explained that the decision is that of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and that Mr. Kenney's role is only to decide to adhere to or to overturn their decision. He has chosen not to overturn it.
Velshi refused to explain the specific grounds for the decision, but referred me to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Section 34(1), which reads:
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).
You can find the full Act here. Mr Velshi refused to tell me which of the above security threats Mr. Galloway posed.
I briefly met Mr. Galloway at the Rafah Border in Egypt last week, as I was returning from a Code Pink delegation to Gaza, and he was returning from having successfully delivered over 1.2 million dollars in aid to Gaza, and bringing world-wide attention to the humanitarian disastor in Gaza via a 100+ vehicle caravan that traveled more than 10,000km from Britian to Gaza called Viva Palestina. This threatens Canada's border security... how exactly?
The decision to deny Galloway entry stands in stark contrast to the warm welcome the Conservative government gave former U.S. President George Bush earlier this week, who many believe should not have been granted entry for his role in perpetuating crimes against humanity, as per section 35(1) of the IRPA. Is banning Galloway the Conservative government's revenge on the anti-war movement's attempt to ban Bush?
According to his website, George Galloway has vowed to use all means at his disposal "to challenge the decision by Canada's pro-war, conservative immigration minister, Jason Kenny, to refuse him entry to the country to give a series of speeches."
No doubt organizers of Mr. Galloway's events, anti-war organizers and free-speech advocates will respond to Mr. Kenney and the CBSA's decision. In the meantime, individuals can voice their concerns to their MPs, and to Mr. Kenney's office directly. Details here.