Saturday, March 21, 2009

George Galloway refused entry to Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has deemed George Galloway to be "inadmissible on security grounds."

I'm struck by some of the bad reporting here in The Globe and Mail, which is generally considered to be Canada's newspaper of record. The article calls Galloway a "Scottish MP". It's true that he's of Scottish origin, but he is a member of the British (not Scottish) parliament, and he represents a constituency in London, England. The article also says Galloway is "considered a renegade in Britain's Labour party". Well, yeah, that's why he was expelled from the Labour party. That was before he won the most recent election to Parliament as a member of the RESPECT party, defeating a Labour incumbent. Don't reporters even have time to look at Wikipedia?

The article quotes Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, as saying that "The government's decision was the right one from legal, security and moral viewpoints." Yet the same day, the same Mr. Farber has an op-ed in the National Post, which is the Globe and Mail's rival to the title of Canada's national newspaper, where he writes:
George Galloway has every right to speak here in Canada, no matter how offensive most Canadians would find his views and actions. But he does not have the right to raise funds for terrorist causes while on our shores. He does not have the right to promote terrorism or incite hatred.
Farber's piece is worth reading because in some places it looks like a parody:
Many Canadians will be shocked at the sort of organizations that are providing support for this speaking tour. The Toronto Women's Bookstore, which several years ago refused to distribute pins calling for an end to suicide bombings in Israel while concomitantly selling buttons that some believed supported Palestinian terrorism, is one backer.
Apparently, many Canadians are easily shocked. But Farber's strongest point is this:
This MP has not only offered moral support to terrorists, but when visiting Gaza during the latest conflict with Israel, he spoke proudly of providing financial assistance to internationally recognized terror groups. He told the Web site Islam Online, "I have offered [Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh] corporeal and financial support. I know that what we have offered is not enough, but it is highly symbolic."
Naturally those brackets arouse suspicion. Here is a longer quote from Galloway's interview in Islam Online:
My visit has more than one reason. ... The third and the main one is to stand beside the legal Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya. The entire world knows that he was elected, apparently, democratically. I have offered him corporeal and financial support. I know that what we have offered is not enough, but it is highly symbolic.
Farber would be more persuasive if he addressed Galloway's point that Ismail Haniya is the legal, democratically elected Palestinian prime minister, because everybody knows that, right? Well, OK, maybe not.

As for the government's reason for excluding Galloway, the Globe and Mail article tells us:
Mr. Kenney's spokesman, Alykhan Velshi, called the decision to bar Galloway a "matter of law" taken by border officials in accordance with Section 34(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which bans those who provide material support for terrorist groups.
Section 34(1) of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states:
A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for
(a) engaging in an act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada;
(b) engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government;
(c) engaging in terrorism;
(d) being a danger to the security of Canada;
(e) engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada; or
(f) being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c).
Didn't I hear something about a foreign national who was allowed entry into Canada this week despite clearly falling under the category of (b) above, and didn't I hear that he even admitted something about that fact publicly during his visit?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Zoroastrian new year

John McCain at the Alfred E. Smith charity dinner in New York on October 16, 2008:

"Finally, when Larry King asked President Clinton a couple weeks ago what was the delay and why wasn't he out there on the trail for Barack, Bill said his hands were tied until the end of the Jewish high holidays.

"Now, you've got to admire that ecumenical spirit. I just know Bill would like to be out there now, stumping for Barack until the last hour of the last day. Unfortunately, he is constrained by his respect for any voters who might be observing the Zoroastrian new year."

As the punchline of a joke, "Zoroastrian new year" brought some of the biggest laughs in McCain's whole comedy routine that night, in an audience of rich and powerful people including Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I don't know of any pundits who noticed the gaffe, aside from one anonymous commenter on Free Republic. Even the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America didn't bother to issue a press release. But now President Obama has chosen to observe the actual Zoroastrian new year by giving a video message to the Iranian people. The interesting thing about the White House web page about the speech is that it actually highlights what is by far the least conciliatory portion:

"You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create."

Switching the names of the countries, President Ahmadinejad could easily use those exact same words in a message to the people of the United States, but how would such a message be received by Americans? This must have been intended as boilerplate for domestic consumption. After all, there are probably more Americans who are concerned that Obama might be too conciliatory with Iran, rather than not conciliatory enough.

Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres of Israel, widely acknowledged as the father of his country's nuclear weapons program, has also chosen this day to address the Iranian people, telling them that their leaders should "stop spending their days dealing with bombs and uranium — is this in the name of God?"