Defend Free Speech Campaign
George Galloway speaking at Columbia University
on March 23, 2009.
On March 19, 2009, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason
Kenney banned British Member of Parliament George Galloway from
entering Canada. Galloway learned about the ban from the British
media, which had been contacted by members of Kenney's staff.
Hours after the ban appeared in the media, Galloway finally received
written confirmation of the ban from Canada's High Commission
Commission of Canada letter to George Galloway
from George Galloway's lawyers
Galloway had been scheduled to visit four Canadian cities - Toronto,
Mississauga, Montreal and Ottawa - as part of a North America-wide
speaking tour in March and April 2009. He had been invited by
local peace coalitions, student unions and church groups to speak
about his recent humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza, and to speak
about his opposition to the war in Afghanistan.
Galloway spent two weeks speaking to audiences in major cities
all over the United States, but was banned from entering Canada
by Jason Kenney.
In response, peace activists and civil liberties campaigners launched
the Defend Free Speech Campaign, which helped galvanize public
opposition to the ban. Unfortunately, we were unable to overturn
it before Galloway was scheduled to speak in Canada. As a consequence,
Galloway was forced to speak to Canadian audiences through an
online video connection from New York City.
Since then, the Defend Free Speech Campaign has
remained committed to opposing Kenney's attack on free speech,
and has supported a legal challenge in the courts. The Federal
Court ruling on October 31 is our first major victory.