Defend Free Speech Campaign

George Galloway speaking at Columbia University on March 23, 2009.
(PHOTO: Vanissa W. Chan)

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 in London.

» High Commission of Canada letter to George Galloway

» Response 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.