Friday, March 20, 2009

For free speech and against the Galloway ban

A sitting British MP is banned from entering Canada to speak because it appears, based on the ramblings of Minister Kenney's spokesthingy and the comments of the Minister himself, that they don't like what he has to say, no matter how much they try to couch the ban in national security terms. Not going to say much more than has already been said by many bloggers today, too numerous to mention. Just adding my voice to the many who have spoken out against it. This is an objectionable abrogation of free speech principles for which we in Canada are supposed to stand. Galloway has been to Canada before, in 2006, and has addressed the U.S. congress. Suddenly elevating him to threat status is suspect. From CBC:
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, speaking to reporters after a speech in Winnipeg Friday, said while he's no fan of Galloway, people can't be banned from Canada for what they may say.

"If he is being barred on free speech grounds that is an outrage," said Ignatieff. "He can come to Canada and talk rubbish all day long as far as I'm concerned."

But Ignatieff said Canadian security officials may know something he doesn't.

"If there is a security threat, that is another matter," he said.

NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow said the Conservatives have a pattern of suppressing those who have contradictory views.

"The minister of immigration is becoming the minister of censorship," Chow told Canadian Press. "We don't have to agree with everything Mr. Galloway talks about.

"But, at bare minimum, they should be allowed to express their points of view so Canadians can make decisions themselves. This is pure censorship and it's wrong."
If there is specific evidence of a security threat, they have failed to articulate it, citing newspaper reports instead (watch Velshi video here).

Additionally, it's part of a theme of late that we see with the Conservatives, with their arbitrary governance. Picking and choosing who will benefit from their largesse as a governing party in any given context. We see suggestions of it in their coming deliberations on helping private broadcasters but not the CBC. We see it in their arbitrary application of the death penalty policy abroad, arbitrariness for which they've been rebuked by a Federal Court. We see it today, in the disallowance of Galloway, in who can enter and who can't.