- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

TORONTO (AP) - Canada has banned an outspoken anti-war British lawmaker from the country on national security grounds, officials said Friday.

George Galloway is well known in Britain for 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 Canadian border officials made the decision because Galloway constitutes a national security threat.

The government will not overturn the decision for someone “who only recently bragged about providing financial support for Hamas, which is a banned terrorist organization in Canada,” Alykhan Velshi said.

Last week, Galloway was awarded an honorary Palestinian passport in a secret meeting with the Hamas prime minister. Ismail Haniyeh’s office released a photo of the two men embracing.

Galloway has also celebrated Taliban soldiers fighting Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, Velshi said.

“In this case, I believe folks that are supporting and promoting and helping terrorist organizations are not needed to visit Canada,” Kenney said.

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.

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 2007, he was suspended from the House of Commons for 18 days after being accused of concealing his financial dealings with Saddam Hussein’s government.

An investigation found that a charity he set up had been partly funded by the Iraqi dictator.

It’s not the first time Canada’s Conservative government has barred entry to high-profile activists. In October 2007, officials banned two U.S. peace activists from speaking at a Toronto conference.

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