OTTAWA — Amid bravos he couldn’t actually hear, George Galloway, the British MP who was controversially barred from Canada for his ties to Hamas, told an Ottawa crowd Thursday he is no terrorist.
“I have instructed my lawyers in Canada to bring an action for defamation against Bernie Farber, the CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and CTV, for comments he made that they allowed him to make,” he said via an Internet connection. “I am not a terrorist. I am not a threat to Canada’s national security.”
The Galloway controversy began in mid-March, when he received a letter from a senior Canadian government official, informing him he wouldn’t be allowed in Canada for his speaking tour because of his “material support” of Hamas, which Canada considers a terrorist organization. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the Conservative government didn’t make the decision, but indicated he would not overturn it. An action brought to the Federal Court by Galloway’s supporters failed Monday.
The outspoken Galloway is known for his support of the Palestinian movement. He was recently in Gaza Strip with a humanitarian convoy, donating money and supplies to the Hamas-led government.
“We gave it to the elected government of Palestine,” Galloway said. “Should we have driven around Gaza looking for opposition parties?”
He told the crowd that, after Israel’s recent 22-day offensive, Gaza looked as if an earthquake had hit. He said Israel had committed war crimes “with the full backing of the Canadian and U.S. governments.”
Before the speech began, Larry Rousseau from No-War-Paix said the Canadian government didn’t “think everything through” when it barred Galloway from entering the country.
“Since they made the decision, everything has been about freedom of speech,” he said.
“When (Galloway) talks, people really get upset about what he has to say. That usually happens when people tell the truth.”
But a group of men handing out sheets entitled “Galloway In his Own Words” said it wasn’t about free speech.
James Cohen said he wasn’t representing any organization, but wanted to provide some reading material in the “interest of fairness.”
He was getting a mostly negative reaction.
“They don’t seem that interested in fairness if it’s not a view they like,” he said.