TORONTO (CUP)—The president of the Students’ Union at York University had plans to speak alongside George Galloway on 30 March disrupted because the British member of Parliament was barred from entering Canada.
Jason Kenney, Canadian minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, recently said he would not intervene with the decision made by the Canadian Border Services Agency to prevent Galloway from setting foot on Canadian soil.
Galloway was scheduled to visit Canada for a four-city speaking tour in Mississauga, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.
However, the British pro-Palestinian, anti-war advocate was banned from entering Canada because of his support for the Hamas-led government of Palestine. Galloway recently led a convoy into Palestine to deliver aid through the Hamas authorities.
Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government for using violence in its aim to establish an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel.
Hamid Osman, president of the York Federation of Students (YFS), was set to speak at the event at the Metropolitan United Church in downtown Toronto.
Osman, however, made it clear that he would not be speaking as the YFS president.
“The reason why I am involved is because I am part of the coordinating committee for the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, and I’m an activist that likes to hear George Galloway speak. But, more importantly, we as citizens of Canada need to allow freedom of speech to occur,” Osman explained.
Osman, who was born in Afghanistan before his family immigrated to Canada, had planned a speech about Canada and NATO’s role in the war in Afghanistan and the role that Canadian citizens can play.
Kenney told the Globe and Mail on 24 March that it wasn’t an issue of free speech but rather an issue of Galloway’s support for Hamas.
“It’s not about words; it’s about deeds. It’s not about his opinions; it’s about his financial [and] material support for an illegal terrorist organization,” he said.
Osman says a delegation would be sent over to attempt to bring Galloway across the border, which may include NDP MP Olivia Chow and Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj.
Osman remains optimistic that Galloway will make it to Canada and speak.
Daniel Ferman, president of the Jewish student group Hillel at York, applauds the Canadian government for preventing Galloway from entering the country.
Osman, however, praises Galloway for championing the rights of minority groups in society and questions the government’s motives.
“Let the man speak. The man is not going to do any harm,” Osman said. “Why does our government feel that it has the right to limit freedom of speech?”