Monday, March 30, 2009

Judge throws up his hands at Galloway decision

Seems that it's a bit of a Pyrrhic "victory" for the federal government in today's decision by a judge to keep British MP George Galloway from entering the country: "Judge denies Galloway's bid to enter Canada." While the judge did uphold the decision to ban Galloway's admission, he gave credence to the argument that Galloway is being kept out for reasons of free speech suppression:
The judge noted there is some evidence that may back Galloway's claim the matter had been "prejudged" and the result of "external lobbying" and "political influence," but he declined to overturn the decision "which is alleged to be one made in bad faith and politically motivated."

"It not necessary that I express an opinion on the admissibility or reliability of such hearsay evidence. Suffice it to say that the arguments raised by the applicants are not frivolous or vexatious," said Martineau.
That's a slap to the federal government.

The judge did nevertheless accept a letter written to Galloway by Canada's high commission in London as sufficient to support the decision to ban him. Or, at least, sufficient enough for him not to interfere in the CBSA's decision. That letter contains claims about Galloway's activities in providing "financial suport for Hamas" in order to substantiate the government's claims to bar Galloway under the statute. The judge here notes that those claims would have to be tested in a future hearing reviewing the government's decision to ban Galloway to determine if they do in fact meet the statute's standard for barring someone, i.e., "engaging in terrorism." Meaning that while those claims may ultimately be found to be insufficient to have banned Galloway, in the meantime, he's banned.

It's a terrible precedent to have been set, one that smacks of the judge throwing up his hands in the midst of a political battle. The balance of convenience favouring the government. Something for everybody to take away from the decision, yet free speech in Canada suffers as a result.

Galloway will be on The Hour tonight, via satellite, of course.

Update (11:30 p.m.): Galloway, you're killing us with this stuff: "'Debate me like a man,' Galloway tells immigration minister in speech."

Update II: BlankI think he means like this...