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The Globe and Mail

'It's all nonsense': George Galloway on Canada's cold shoulder

British MP George Galloway says he didn't give money to Hamas, but rather to the ministry of health in Gaza to cover the salaries of doctors and nurses who hadn't been paid.

Jas Lehal/Jas Lehal/Reuters

As the George Galloway case goes before a federal court in Toronto Monday, Mr. Galloway tells The Globe and Mail what he thinks about the whole ordeal and shares what he considers are the real reasons behind his ban from the country.

The thrust of the ban is that you support terrorist organizations. What do you say to that?

Well, I'm five times elected to the British Parliament and I travel freely and widely in the United States of America. So that can hardly be true, can it? The British Parliament would not have a terrorist in it and the United States of America would not admit a terrorist. So to be banned from Canada, it's just preposterous.

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You were recently booted from Egypt, too.

I was declared a persona non grata by the dictatorship in Egypt because I showed the world that they are the reason why there is a siege on Gaza. I'm content to be banned from Egypt because that's a dictatorship, but I'm not content to be banned from Canada, because that isn't.

The Canadian government says you gave about $45,000 to Hamas and that's part of why you shouldn't be allowed here.

I didn't give any money to Hamas, I gave it to the ministry of health in Gaza to pay for the salaries of the doctors and nurses who hadn't been paid. By the way, we're talking about 20 odd thousand pounds, not millions. It's a symbolic donation. I gave it to the ministry of health in Gaza and I'm proud to have done so.

What are your views on Hamas?

It's all in the court documents. I have never been a supporter of Hamas, I am not a supporter of Hamas now. On the contrary, I was with President Arafat for the best years of my life, from 1983 until the day that he died in Palestine, I was at his bedside. So, I'm sorry but it's all nonsense. As the revelations of these documents prove, this was a political job.

Jim Wright, Canada's high commissioner in Britain, has said you're "not taken seriously in the U.K. and that denying [you]entry to Canada will simply give [you]a greater platform?" Does that reveal further motives for barring you?

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If you want my honest opinion, I think the Canadian government is more afraid of my views on Afghanistan than they were on my views on Palestine. The Canadian people know that the blood of their soldiers is being spent and the treasure of their treasury is being spent in a doomed enterprise. And I'm far from not being taken seriously. I'm surely to be elected for the sixth time. I am the leader of an anti-war movement in Britain that is millions strong.

What are your impressions of Canada as a nation and how might they differ from your reaction to this case?

Well, as a Scotsman, and Canada being a place where very many Scottish people immigrated, I always regarded Canada, to which I've travelled often, as a home away from home. It was the kinder, gentler, North American state. But I'm afraid the Harper government has made it the last bout of Bush-ism on the continent.

How has this situation become a battle for free speech as well as a pursuit of human rights and political justice?

Well, I addressed all the audiences and more than I was going to address if I had been allowed into Canada. I just did it by the technology that is today available. And I achieved the remarkable thing, really, of packing thousands of people into halls and churches to watch a video screen and watch someone broadcasting from New York. And the irony was not lost – I'm banned from Canada, but I'm broadcasting from New York. It's just ridiculous.

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