They banned the wrong George

March 27, 2009

Erik Wallenberg wonders about the mix-up in Canada where the government allowed in a known war criminal, but kept out a leading opponent of war.

IT SEEMS that the Canadian government, and the immigration ministry in particular, has gotten their Georges confused. Though how you could confuse a bumbling idiot with a Texas drawl for an erudite Scotsman with an oratory of the first degree, is hard to imagine.

George W. Bush was granted safe passage to Calgary earlier this month for a speaking engagement that netted him some $400-a-plate to talk about his eight years in the White House--God only knows what anyone would want to hear him talk about. Meanwhile, George Galloway was branded an "infandous street-corner Cromwell" by Alykhan Velshi, spokesperson for Canada's immigration minister Jason Kenney, and refused entry into the country.

I guess it should be obvious that the Canadian government, headed by Bush wanna-be Stephen Harper, would make room for a war criminal of the highest order and have nothing but contempt for a "street-corner" politician who actually represents the beliefs of those who elected him, not to mention the majority of Canadians who want Canadian involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan to end (and who protested Bush's first speaking engagement and trip outside the U.S. since leaving office).

George Galloway speaking at a 2008 protest of George W. Bush's visit to London
George Galloway speaking at a 2008 protest of George W. Bush's visit to London (Davide Simonetti)

Galloway was asked to travel to Canada to speak about the war in Afghanistan. Certainly the Canadian government would rather not have him there speaking against an occupation that Canadian troops are carrying out. But the official reason for his being barred from entering the country is his unabashed support for Palestinians' right to resist occupation in any way they see fit--namely by giving aid to Hamas for the people of Palestine.

In fact, Galloway, when questioned on this, said, "We can only come to the aid of the Palestinian people and give that aid to the democratically elected government. This is something that will not change, no matter how many governments around the world in however many conflicts try to choose other peoples' representatives."

Galloway, who traveled to Gaza recently with the Viva Palestina convey, brought aid and international attention to the Israeli siege that has laid waste to the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, should have gone the way of Bush long ago, but maintains a hold of power by undemocratic parliamentary maneuvers.

It is truly an upside down world when a government can allow a war criminal like George W. Bush--who more than any other single figure in the world has been directly responsible for the deaths and displacement of literally millions of people--to enter the country to rake in more cash and tell more lies, while keeping out George Galloway, who has devoted his life to organizing relief and humanitarian aid, telling the truth and speaking up for ordinary people.

It's time to turn this world right side up and decide--as George Galloway has--that "this is not something I'm prepared to accept."

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