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UPDATED: And the award for quickest opposition response to the Galloway ban goes to …


 

… the NDP:

HARPER GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO LIMIT FREE SPEECH

Minister of Censorship Jason Kenney denies entry to British MP Galloway

OTTAWA – Canadians interested in hearing international experts deliver anti-war messages will now have to leave the country to do so. British MP George Galloway, who was schedule to talk on resisting the war in Afghanistan, was banned by Harper’s government from entering Canada.

“Harper’s Conservatives are wrong to bar MP George Galloway,” said New Democrat Immigration Critic Olivia Chow.  “The Minister of Immigration is becoming the ‘Minister of Censorship’. This bunker mentality indicates a government afraid of hearing contradictory points of view.”

Minister Kenny’s reasons for denying George Galloway entry are an affront to freedom of speech and show the Harper government is frightened of an open debate on an unpopular war. A spokesperson for the Minister said Galloway is “inadmissible” to Canada due to his opposition to the deployment of NATO troops in Afghanistan.

“By the Minister’s own twisted logic anyone who opposed the war in Afghanistan should be barred entry to Canada,” continued Chow.  “Would the Minister do the same to veteran British Conservative MP Sir Peter Tapsell, who called the war ‘unwinnable’ and once said it was ‘widely understood’ that the Taliban were ‘not international terrorists’?” (London Times, July 2, 2008)

“Canadians are able to make their own judgement on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and freedom of speech is critical in a democratic country,” said Chow.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has a history of banning people from Canada who do not support his views on war. In October 2007 US Peacemakers Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink and retired Colonel Ann Wright were barred from speaking at a Toronto peace conference.

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UPDATE: An ever so slightly more cautious, but still critical response to the news from Liberal Leader Michael Ignatief via Canadian Press here – and thanks to Commenter BCinTO for the link:

In Winnipeg, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff suggested that, on the face of it, the decision does not appear justified. But he cautioned that security officials might know something he doesn’t.

“I have never in a long life of listening to George Galloway heard a single sentence out of his mouth that I believed,” said Ignatieff. “But that’s not the issue.

“We let into Canada all kinds of people who say ridiculous and absurd things and Galloway has said his share of ridiculous and absurd things. The issue … is whether the security services know something about George Galloway that I don’t.

“If he’s being barred on free-speech grounds, that’s an outrage. He can come to Canada and talk rubbish all day long, as far as I’m concerned. If there’s a security threat, that’s another matter. I’ve heard no evidence yet that he presents a security threat.”


 

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