Defend free speech. Let George Galloway into Canada.

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March 9, 2009: The Viva Palestina convoy left Hyde Park in London on Valentine’s Day, with more than 100 vehicles driven by volunteers including the MP George Galloway (centre). They brought aid worth more than £1.5m including medical supplies, clothes, food and toys as well as 20 ambulances, two buses, a fire engine and a fishing boat. Photo: Sky News

by the Canadian Peace Alliance

By now you will have heard that Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, has banned British MP George Galloway from entering Canada. Galloway is scheduled to speak in four cities during a pan-Canadian speaking tour from March 30 to April 2.

Kenney’s decision to ban Galloway is an unprecedented attack on free speech and on the right to criticize our own government’s foreign policy. Kenney’s office has publicly stated that Galloway will be banned because of his views on the war in Afghanistan and because he represents a “threat to national security”.

The ban follows Kenney’s recent attacks on Canadian Arab and Muslim organizations and on Palestine solidarity campaigners for their criticism of Israel’s war on Gaza and its treatment of Palestinians. In the last few days, Kenney unilaterally cut funding to the Canadian Arab Federation for its immigrant settlement program. Kenney also recently attacked students organizing Israeli Apartheid Week on campuses across Canada.

Kenney has attempted to silence their voices by accusing them of anti-Semitism, despite the wide range of support and participation of Jewish organizations and individuals in these Palestine solidarity events.

The organizers of Galloway’s speaking tour – the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, the Ottawa Peace Assembly, and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – condemn in the strongest terms Kenney’s attack on free speech and our right to criticize our government’s foreign policy. We call on all supporters of civil liberties to join us in challenging these attacks and in reversing Kenney’s ban.

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