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A Federal Court Judge Slams the Door on George Galloway, Again

March 30, 2009

Apparently a Federal Court judge has just denied British MP George Galloway’s request for an injunction that would have allowed him to enter Canada despite being initially barred as an alleged supporter of terrorism. I don’t know the reason for this latest decision, and I suppose the judge may not have had much choice, legally speaking. Nevertheless, it’s a disappointing outcome. An injunction would presumably have resolved the unfortunate situation that the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) created by denying entry to Galloway in the first place, and that Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney perpetuated by refusing to overrule the Agency. Something has clearly gone wrong when a member of the British Parliament is prevented from speaking in Canada.

But what, exactly, is that something?

At first, I assumed that the problem was Canada’s sweeping laws against supporting terrorist organisations, and that Kenney and the CBSA effectively had their hands tied. However, the website rabble.ca has posted a letter that the Canadian High Commission in London sent to Galloway to advise him of the CBSA’s decision, and the legal pretext for barring Galloway seems almost laughably thin. The letter cites paragraphs 34(1)(c) and 34(1)(f) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), both of which are entries in a list of reasons for barring foreign nationals. Here they are, as quoted in the letter:

(c) engaging in terrorism

(f) being a member of an organization that there are reasonable ground [sic] to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c).

Paragraph (a) is about espionage, and (b) about “the subversion by force of any government [including Hamas in the Gaza Strip, one wonders?]”. Hamas attempts to do those things, and has certainly perpetrated acts of terrorism, but notice that (f) would apply only if Galloway were “a member”, as opposed to a supporter, of the organization. As for (c), I don’t think George Galloway has ever blown anything up, or even given anyone a bomb. The letter argues that he violated paragraphs (c) and (f) by organizing “a convoy worth over one million British pounds in aid and vehicles” for the Gaza Strip, but this argument makes sense only for absurdly broad definitions of “being a member” and “engaging in terrorism”. One would think that any fair-minded person in Kenney’s position would have seen this instantly, and overruled the CBSA as a matter of course.

Galloway aside, the National Post reported last week that Kenney has been complaining about “wide-scale and almost systematic abuse” of Canada’s refugee admission system, in the wake of a big increase in the number of claims. It seems to me that Kenney is probably on much firmer ground here, and the Post also has an interesting piece on his ambitious plans to “reinvent Canadian multiculturalism”. His ideas are well worth discussing… but they’ll have to wait for another blog post. Meanwhile, Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister for Ruffling Feathers, continues to surprise and entertain.

Corwin

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. canworldjon permalink*
    March 30, 2009 8:02 pm

    Canada’s refugee system definitely needs reform badly, but where is Kenney getting his evidence for a “broad political consensus” that the “inland refugee system is broke’?

    (is that your sentence, Renee? 🙂 )

    False consensus aside, the first thing that needs to be done, is to create a Refugee appellate division to streamline appeals from the IRB. The division would hear all grounds for appeal, including H&C applications (application to remain based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds) which are currently heard separately as sort of feint hope applications, that can lead to endless levels of judicial review. The process would be more transparent, efficient (the appellate division could gain expertise in common issues) and would seem less arbitrary– it cuts down on the messy patchwork of judicial review and appeal processes currently plaguing the system.

    • corsullivan permalink*
      April 1, 2009 12:03 pm

      Good point about the possibly false consensus, though some of the problems with the refugee system that are currently being reported do seem pretty egregious.

      It sounds like you have a much better idea of how the current system actually works than I do. Your concept of an appellate division definitely sounds sensible, but just how bad is the appeals process now? Are these “endless levels of judicial review” a big problem in practice?

  2. reneethewriter permalink
    March 30, 2009 4:40 pm

    Great post, Cor. Thank you for the link to the Nat. Post story on Minister Kenney and “multiculturalism.” I look forward to your further comments. One sentence in particular in the Post story has stuck with me…i may craft a piece around it…can you guess the sentence? R

    • corsullivan permalink*
      April 1, 2009 11:57 am

      Glad you found the Post story interesting. As for guessing your sentence, there are a lot of provocative ones in there… but if I had to guess, I suppose I’d pick “Immigrants, he says, should come prepared to accept our national standards, or stay out.” Am I right? Even close?

      The sentence that stuck with me, though, was part of the quote from Martin Collacott of the Fraser Institute: “The idea that we are a happy mosaic and we can continue to let people do anything they want, short of breaking the law, is short-sighted…” Surely the role of the law is precisely to spell out what we “let people do”, unless Collacott thinks we need some shadowy new quasi-legal mechanism for controlling behaviour. Combined with the astonishing phrase “philosophical hygiene”, which pops up earlier in the article, it’s all starting to sound pretty Orwellian.

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  1. Jason Kenney’s views on multiculturalism counterbalanced by research from Michael Adams and Robert Putnam « Canada’s World

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