Banned British MP announces several lawsuits against Canadians
The Canadian Press
April 2, 2009
OTTAWA Controversial British politician George Galloway told a cheering crowd Thursday in Ottawa that he planned to sue some Canadians after being banned from the country.
He said he had spoken to lawyers and planned a defamation lawsuit against the head of the Canadian Jewish Congress and the CTV television network.
A spokesman later said Galloway planned similar action against Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and a government official over remarks made when they announced he was inadmissible into Canada.
Speaking through a video hookup, Galloway said he would sue over comments made by congress chief executive Bernie Farber in an interview with the network. He did not explain what those remarks were.
But the five-time member of Parliament told an Ottawa crowd that he would fight for his reputation.
He demanded an apology, a reimbursement for administrative costs, and payment for damages – otherwise he would sue.
“I have instructed my lawyers in Canada to begin an action for defamation,” Galloway said from New York City, where he was speaking via video hookup.
“I will not accept being called the things I was called by Mr. Farber on Canadian national television.”
Unless they agree to his conditions, Galloway said, “Mr. Farber, and CTV, you'll be seeing us in court. . . Because I am not a terrorist. I am not a threat to Canada's national security.”
Farber declined to comment on Galloway's statements in an email to the Canadian Press late Thursday. CTV has not responded to a request for comment.
Galloway made his remarks through an Internet connection hooked up to a giant video screen in a downtown Ottawa theatre, where hundreds of people had gathered to hear him speak.
The Ottawa event was one of several stops Galloway had been planning to make in person on a three-city Canadian tour.
The Canadian government has banned Galloway from the country, explaining that he broke an immigration law that forbids “engaging in terrorism.”
The government cited his recent delivery of an aid convoy to the war-torn Gaza Strip and of $45,000 to the Hamas government.
Hamas is a banned terrorist organization in Canada.
But Galloway said he was merely delivering aid – like a fire truck and fishing equipment – to suffering people.
He said he has never in his life supported Hamas and has always favoured its political nemesis, the more moderate Fatah.
But he said it's the democratic right of Palestinians to choose their government – and the rest of the world must deal with that government.
“It's none of Stephen Harper's business who the Palestinian people vote for,” Galloway said.
“So I will not join this siege of an elected government because Washington, London and Ottawa doesn't like them.”
He also argued that the enemies list of Western governments tends to be amorphous, and subject to frequent change. He said talking to rivals is more productive than isolating them.
A Galloway spokesman later said he planned a defamation suit against Kenney and another Canadian official after the government essentially branded him a terrorist.
In his speech Thursday, Galloway returned the favour and branded the government a few things, too.
He thanked the Harper Tories for banning him – which he said wound up drawing way more people to his tour and increased Internet traffic of his speeches by up to 1,000 times.
“Far, far more people across Canada and indeed across the world have paid attention to this tour than otherwise would have done if the flat-footed, blundering, dead-end, has-been, George Bush-bootlicking government in Ottawa had not taken these measures,” he said to loud applause.
He said the Harper government has left Canada alone internationally with its knee-jerk support of Israel, and its method of refusing to deal with those rivals, like Hamas, that it dislikes.
He also seized on a controversy over Afghanistan's new Shia family law to condemn this country's military operation there.
The Karzai government has approved – but not yet implemented – a law that would make it illegal for a woman to refuse sex with her husband, or leave the house without his permission.
“This war in Afghanistan is doomed,” Galloway said.
“Your young men are being asked to give their life's blood, and to take the life's blood of others, to prop up the puppet government of Karzai. . .
“Is this what Canadian lives are being given to support?”
Earlier Thursday, Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada dismissed the idea that women's rights are regressing in his country.
Eight years ago, women couldn't leave the house without a male relative or be seen without a burqa. Today, they hold 89 of the 351 seats in the Afghan parliament – a higher percentage than even in Canada. Millions of girls now attend school and many women own businesses.
But Galloway said NATO will eventually have to negotiate with its enemies in Afghanistan, sooner or later – “so why not make it sooner, rather than later, when fewer young soldiers and fewer Afghans have died in the interim?”
By this point the crowd had fallen silent, as Galloway made his sombre predictions.
But he drew some laughs with a joke that compared some of Afghanistan's previous invaders to today's coalition leaders.
“Not even Alexander the Great successfully occupied Afghanistan – and Stephen Harper, you ain't no Alexander the Great.”