Outspoken former British MP George Galloway has made good on his threat to sue Canada's immigration minister over an attempt to ban him from entering the country for a Canadian speaking tour.
A statement of claim served on Jason Kenney and his assistant Alykhan Velshi alleges they abused their official powers by banning Galloway from Canada in March 2009.
The statement of claim, which seeks $1.5 million in damages, also alleges that Kenney and Velshi defamed Galloway in British newspapers.
Galloway, an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian people, was planning to visit Canada to make a series of speeches about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kenney barred him from the country, alleging the former British MP had financially supported the Palestinian group Hamas, which Ottawa considers a terrorist organization.
Galloway has said that Kenney's allegations caused him "18 months of hell" and threatened his personal security.
Louis Sokolov, a lawyer representing Galloway, says the government barred Galloway to silence him on the false pretence that he was a threat to national security.
"His reputation was tarnished not just in Great Britain but in fact all over the world by the allegations that were made against him," Sokolov said in an interview.
Sokolov added that Galloway lost his seat in Britain's House of Commons following the comments.
"He will certainly argue that he lost his job at least in part as a result of the defamation," Sokolov said.
Federal Court overruled minister
The timing of the lawsuit — which comes smack in the middle of a federal election campaign — is pure coincidence, Sokolov said.
"The claim was commenced in order to comply with limitations in Ontario, and it happened to fall within the timing of the election," he said. "The claim was planned and was in the works well before the election was called."
Galloway was admitted into Canada last fall after a Federal Court ruling said the government's decision to keep him out was in part politically motivated.
The allegations contained in the statement of claim have not been proven in court and no statement of defence has been filed. Kenney and Velshi could not be immediately reached for comment.