Galloway takes shots at Harper, Kenney
Former British MP George Galloway, initially barred from entering Canada, speaks at the University of Calgary, within immigration minister Jason Kenney's riding in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, November 24, 2010 6:59AM EST
CALGARY - Political firebrand George Galloway took his message straight into the heart of Alberta's conservative country Tuesday evening and into the city represented in part by the man who earlier blocked his entry into Canada.
The former British MP -- once a member of the Labour Party and more recently a founder of the left-wing Respect Party -- spoke to more than 750 people who braved the --28 C temperature to take in his speech at the University of Calgary.
His current speaking tour of Canada replaces the one he had planned for last year when he was denied entry into the country over his alleged financial support of the Palestinian group Hamas. Ottawa considers Hamas a terrorist organization.
Immigration officials later let Galloway into the country following a Federal Court ruling that was critical of the government, saying its decision to keep him out was in part politically motivated.
"I'm astounded at this turnout on this bitter winter's evening. I thought I wasn't welcome in Calgary. Practically the only seat vacant in this hall is the one that we kept for the local member of Parliament," he said to loud applause.
Two seats were noticeably empty. They had been set aside for federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the MP for Calgary Southeast, and a guest.
"I visited his constituency office today. He hadn't even cleared the snow and ice from the front of it. I don't know how he gets such a big vote," Galloway joked.
"I went there looking for him. I'm looking for him everywhere. He doesn't answer my calls, he doesn't reply to my letters and today he wasn't there.
"When he banned me 18 months ago, Mr. Kenney's office said `he's not getting in and that is that.' I said it ain't over until the fat lady sings and the fat lady in question is the grand old lady of Canadian justice."
Earlier this year in Toronto, Galloway donned a pair of red mittens as if they were boxing gloves, challenged Kenney to a public debate and promised to sue the minister for slander.
On Tuesday, Galloway didn't limit his barbs to Kenney. He also took shots at Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the opposition leaders over word that Canada was extending its mission to Afghanistan by another three years.
"I see that your government has broken yet another promise," Galloway said. "They've promised they would withdraw your young soldiers from this doomed and disastrous war in Afghanistan.
"What's wrong with this Parliament? You're paying an opposition to be the opposition but actually on such a momentus decision such as this continuing, your opposition doesn't even want a debate, never mind a vote."
Galloway said Canadian taxpayers will lose more of their "tax dollars and the lifesblood of your young men" by continuing to participate in a war that has "gone so disastrously wrong."