OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has barred firebrand British lawmaker George Galloway entry into the country on the grounds that he is a threat to national security, a government spokesman said on Friday.
Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, said the decision was originally made by Canadian bureaucrats, but that Kenney would not overrule it in light of Galloway’s backing for the Palestinian group Hamas.
“The minister will not give a special exemption from Canada’s security laws to Mr. Galloway, nor will he provide special treatment to a man who brags about giving financial support to Hamas, a banned terrorist organization in Canada, or who offers sympathy for Canada’s enemies in Afghanistan,” Velshi said.
“I‘m sure Mr. Galloway has a large Rolodex of friends in regimes elsewhere in the world willing to roll out the red carpet for him. Canada, however, won’t be one of them.”
The Canadian Jewish Congress said Galloway was clearly a risk to Canadians for his “moral and, in some cases, financial support for internationally recognized terrorist organizations.”
Canada’s left-leaning New Democratic Party attacked the government decision as a restraint on free speech.
Galloway was formerly a Labor member of Parliament in Britain, but was expelled from the party for urging British soldiers not to fight in Iraq. He subsequently formed his own party, Respect, and was reelected to the House of Commons.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway