TORONTO – Canada has banned British anti-war lawmaker George Galloway from the country on national security grounds.
Galloway is known in Britain for his inflammatory rhetoric and his opposition to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He was due to give a speech in Toronto on March 30.
A spokesman for Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Friday that Canadian border officials made the decision because he was seen as a national security threat.
Spokesman Alykhan Velshi said the government would not overturn the decision for someone "who only recently bragged about providing financial support for Hamas, which is a banned terrorist organization in Canada."
Velshi said Galloway has also celebrated Taliban soldiers, who are fighting Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Galloway called the ban outrageous.
"This is a very sad day for the Canada we have known and loved — a bastion of the freedoms that supporters of the occupation of Afghanistan claim to be defending," Galloway said. "This has further vindicated the anti-war movement's contention that unjust wars abroad will end up consuming the very liberties that make us who we are."
Galloway said the ban smacked of "a rather desperate election ploy by a conservative government reaching the end of the line, or by a minister who has not cottoned on to the fact that the George Bush era is over." It was a reference to the former U.S. president, George W. Bush, who left office in January.
Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 for urging British soldiers not to fight in Iraq. He formed his own party, Respect, and won re-election to the Commons in 2005.
In 2005, Galloway created a spectacle on Capitol Hill by denouncing U.S. senators while testifying before a committee that accused his political organization and his wife of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.N. oil-for-food allocations from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
He denied the allegation, called the panel of senators a "lickspittle Republican committee" and accused them of "the mother of all smoke screens."
In 2007 he was suspended from the House of Commons for 18 days after being accused of concealing his financial dealings with Saddam's government. An investigation found that a charity he set up had been partly funded by the late Iraqi dictator.
Velshi said Kenney's office contacted Galloway's office on Thursday and notified him so he could "avoid the expense and embarrassment of being turned away from the Canadian border. It was more of a courtesy."