Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says he will not intervene in a decision to bar British MP George Galloway from entering Canada.

Galloway, who has sat in the British House of Parliament for the past 23 years, is a frequent critic of the Iraq war and the treatment of Palestinians by Israel.

Two weeks ago, allegations surfaced that he financially supported Hamas, a group that Canada defines as a terrorist organization.

"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," Kenney told CTV's Power Play on Monday.

"When they looked at what he's done, on a preliminary basis they made a preliminary ruling that he is inadmissible."

Galloway, who has also spoken out against the war in Afghanistan, was scheduled for a four-city Canadian speaking tour beginning on March 30. He launched a U.S. tour on the same day Kenney appeared on Power Play.

When asked why the U.S. had not barred Galloway, Kenney responded: "We're a sovereign country."

James Clark, spokesperson for the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, said the group is "incredulous" that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has banned Galloway, and plans to launch a legal challenge in Ontario provincial court on Tuesday.

"All week we're going to be campaigning and lobbying the federal government to defend freedom of speech and reverse the ban," Clark, whose group is helping organize Galloway's tour, told

If the government doesn't change its position, a group of Galloway's supporters plan to try and personally escort him across the border on March 30, Clark said.

"We will be organizing a delegation at a border crossing, likely in Quebec, where a delegation of MPs and lawyers will cross into the U.S. to meet Galloway and accompany him across the border," he said.

Galloway has spoken in Canada on a number of occasions without incident -- most recently in 2006 -- and there has never before been an objection from the federal government, Clark said.

"We think this move is politically motivated and is simply about silencing someone who has very strong views on our position on Afghanistan and other issues," Clark said.

He said Galloway has been elected five times to British parliament, has never been charged with a crime, has no criminal record, and "it's unclear just how the government sees him as a national security threat."

Kenney said immigration officials are just following the law.

"It's not about words, it's about deeds; it's not about free speech, it's about our laws and ensuring they're consistently enforced," said Kenney.

The groups campaigning to bring Galloway to Canada include The Council of Canadians, Canadian Civil Liberties Union, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, as well as anti-war coalitions, labour unions and community groups.

"One way or another, we will bring George Galloway to Canada," Laith Marouf, national branches coordinator of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, said in a news release.

Galloway sits as a left-wing Respect MP, following his dismissal from Britain's Labour party in 2003.

Despite the ban, organizers of the Galloway tour are moving forward with plans, in hopes he will be allowed into the country.

He 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.