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U.K. rabble-rouser Galloway coming to Canada

TORONTO - Armed with a judge's ruling, British activist George Galloway blasted Ottawa on Wednesday for his aborted Canadian visit 18 months ago as he announced plans to speak in Toronto this weekend.

TORONTO - Armed with a judge's ruling, British activist George Galloway blasted Ottawa on Wednesday for his aborted Canadian visit 18 months ago as he announced plans to speak in Toronto this weekend.

Speaking from London via Skype, the rabble-rousing politician attacked Immigration Minister Jason Kenney for branding him a terrorist and trying to stifle his anti-war views.

"I'm coming to get you with my arguments, Mr. Kenney," Galloway said.

"I'm going to establish either that you're a fool or that you're a knave — in any case, that the people of Canada deserve better than you."

Kenney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Galloway was scheduled to speak in Canada in March 2009, but decided against coming after Ottawa said he would likely be denied entry.

The government cited his dealing with Gaza's elected Hamas government, which Canada considers a terrorist organization.

On Monday, a Federal Court judge found the Conservative government had acted politically to suppress his opinions.

"It is clear that the efforts to keep Mr. Galloway out of the country had more to do with antipathy to his political views than with any real concern that he had engaged in terrorism or was a member of a terrorist organization,'' Judge Richard Mosley stated in his ruling.

Documents show Kenney's office was clear in its opposition to the 2009 visit, with his spokesman writing the minister would not overturn the ban given "the kind of things George Galloway advocates."

At the time, Kenney did say publicly: "I believe folks that are supporting and promoting and helping terrorist organizations are not needed to visit Canada.''

Galloway said the terrorist allegations had proven extremely damaging.

Not only did they cost him his long-held seat in the U.K. House of Commons in May, he said, they also put him in personal danger, hampered his ability to travel and placed him and his family under anxiety and stress.

Although he abandoned a libel suit against Kenney on the grounds that it was proving too expensive to fight, he indicated Wednesday that he may yet seek legal redress from the Canadian government.

Using words reminiscent of the McCarthy-era communist witch-hunts in the United States half a century ago, Galloway stated what he called an "incontrovertible truth."

"I am not now, nor have I ever been, a terrorist or a security threat to Canada or anywhere else," he said.

Toronto lawyer Barb Jackman said the court ruling showed the minority government under Stephen Harper was using Canadian laws to advance its own political agenda and civil servants had stepped into the political arena in support of the government.

Fellow lawyer Hadayt Nazami called the government's behaviour "dangerous" and anti-democratic.

Supporters of the anti-war activist said they were looking forward to hearing him speak on the weekend.

Galloway, who had planned to talk in Canada last year about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead spoke via a video link from New York City.

The government's actions, he said, had only served now to give him a bigger platform, and he promised to "pack them in" Sunday when he speaks in Toronto.

Immigration officials could still deny him entry on his arrival, but Galloway said he hoped Mosley's "judicial caning" of Kenney and his colleagues would prompt them to accept defeat.

A Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman said the decision on whether Galloway will be allowed to enter will be made "if and when" he arrives Saturday at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

 
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