Canada court hears bid to lift Galloway entry ban

Lawyer: If Galloway is considered a terrorist for aiding Gaza, the Canadian prime minister must receive the same treatment.

TORONTO — The lawyer for an outspoken anti-war British lawmaker banned from Canada said Wednesday the Canadian government had falsely labeled George Galloway a terrorist because they did not like his views on the war in Afghanistan.
The government had refused entry to Galloway on national security grounds last year, saying he provided money to Hamas, which Canada considers a terrorist organization.
Lawyer Barbara Jackman told an Ontario federal court judge Wednesday that Galloway has merely provided humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza — something Canada has been involved in.
"It's clear Canadian aid was going into Gaza, so it's all right for our government to do it but not for Mr. Galloway? If in fact Mr. Galloway is a terrorist then our prime minister is as well," said Jackman, who was in court in a bid to lift Canada's entry ban on her client.
Galloway was scheduled to embark on a four-city Canadian speaking tour in March 2009 before he was barred for what the government said was his involvement in an aid convoy to war-torn Gaza, and his donation of $45,000 to the elected Hamas government.
He was instead allowed into New York City at the time, where he addressed Canadian audiences via a video link.
Galloway has called the ban outrageous, saying Canada should support freedom of speech.
"Freedom to speak and freedom to hear are inseparable," Jackman told the judicial review panel.
The lawyers argued the government's decision to ban Galloway was politically motivated.
Galloway is well known in Britain for his ardent opposition to the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He was expelled from the UK's Labor Party in 2003 for urging British soldiers not to fight in Iraq. He formed his own party, Respect, and won re-election to the Commons in 2005.
Last year he was awarded an honorary Palestinian passport in a secret meeting with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, whose office released a photo of the two men embracing.
In 2005, Galloway created a spectacle on Capitol Hill in Washington by denouncing US senators while testifying before a committee that accused his political organization of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in UN oil-for-food allocations from Saddam Hussein. He denied the allegation.
In 2007, he was suspended from the House of Commons for 18 days after being accused of concealing his financial dealings with Saddam's government. An investigation found that a charity he set up had been partly funded by the Iraqi dictator.