I have never supported Hamas, says Galloway
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, March 24, 2009 11:21PM EDT
British MP George Galloway says ambulances and medical supplies he gave to Hamas were meant for Palestinians battered by the Gaza conflict, dismissing the reasons behind a decision to block his entry into Canada.
"I have not now, nor have I ever been a supporter of Hamas," Galloway told CTV's Power Play by phone from New Jersey on Tuesday. "If I had a vote in the Palestinian elections it would not go to Hamas."
Galloway, an anti-war advocate who has resided in the British House of Commons for the past 23 years, is currently on a speaking tour of North America, which includes dates in Canada.
Two weeks ago, allegations surfaced that he had financially supported Hamas, a group that Canada defines as a terrorist organization. On a preliminary basis, the Canada Border Services Agency decided to block Galloway from entering Canada.
Heritage Minister Jason Kenney then said he would not intervene in that decision.
On Tuesday, Galloway told Power Play he travelled to Gaza City earlier this month to deliver 100 ambulances and vehicles stuffed with medical supplies, which he valued at roughly 800,000 British pounds.
He said he gave the supplies to Hamas only because the group is the territory's government, but they were meant for the Palestinian people.
"We can only come to the aid of the Palestinian people and give that aid to the democratically-elected government," said Galloway. "This is something that will not change. No matter how many governments around the world in however many conflicts try to choose other peoples' representatives."
On Monday, Kenney said that Galloway should not be allowed to enter Canada, citing a preliminary finding that he had "financially" supported Hamas.
"Very clearly, our Immigration and Refugee Protection Act says that people who support terrorist organizations financially are inadmissible to Canada. This was the conclusion of our Canadian border security agency officials," he said.
Galloway has visited Canada several times before without incident, most recently in 2006. He said Tuesday he has appealed the government's decision, and an injunction will go before the courts on Friday.
"One way or another, the thousands of people who have bought tickets to hear me, in four different places, will hear me," he said.
"The technology exists through which I can still get my message across. I suppose in a perverse way, Minister Kenney's decision has further increased the audience, one way or another."
Galloway is scheduled to speak four times over the course of a few days:
- March 30 in Toronto
- March 31 in Mississauga
- April 1 in Montreal
- April 2 in Ottawa
Galloway had also been scheduled to speak today in Toronto at a news conference entitled Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar.