Attorneys for British Parliamentarian George Galloway spent much of Wednesday in a Toronto courtroom, arguing that the controversial politician's year-old ban from entering the country should be overturned. It is based, they say, on the Canadian government's pro-Israel stance.
Galloway planned to speak in four Canadian cities in 2009 following a short tour in the United States and the successful completion of his first Viva Palestina (VP) convoy to Gaza. He was deemed inadmissible based on an immigration law barring foreign nationals who support terrorism. During the first VP convoy, Galloway gave more than $1 million to Hamas officials in Gaza.
"If in fact Mr. Galloway is a terrorist for providing aid to the elected government of Gaza, then our Prime Minister is as well," attorney Barbara Jackman told the court. Canada sends humanitarian aid to Gaza.
"We have clearly aligned ourselves with a particular political point of view," she said.
Government lawyers denied that the immigration minister had any involvement in the decision to ban Galloway, and that Galloway should be considered a member of a terrorist organization because he provided material and financial support to Hamas. However, these arguments are undercut by the inadvertent disclosure of a 66-page document, known as the Court Tribunal Record, of internal government emails and letters which allegedly shows the involvement of the Ministry.
"This is a measure of how Canada has become Israel's ambassador at large," Galloway said in an interview Wednesday. "Not just Israel's ambassador at large, but Netanyahu's ambassador at large -- the most extreme government that Israel has ever had. I can't imagine why Canada would want to throw away the high reputation [it] had in the world as a decent place in which people respected others. For what? For Netanyahu? What's in that for Canada?"
Egypt deported Galloway in January, and he was declared "persona non grata" by the Egyptian foreign ministry, barring him from entering the country again. The United States and Britain have taken no action against him, despite the mounting evidence that Galloway and his group have given money to Hamas.
Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley reportedly will take a month before deciding on the case.