European politician who opposes trade deal says he was denied entry to Canada

An anti-globalization activist and European Parliament MP who opposes a trade deal between Canada and the European union says he has been denied entry into Canada.

The Council of Canadians, a social action organization, invited José Bové to Montreal to speak about his opposition to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, or CETA.

Bové’s time in Montreal was planned to coincide with a visit by the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is to arrive in Ottawa today.

The deal is one of a number of topics Valls, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard are expected to broach during Valls’s visit.

But Bové wrote last night on Twitter he’d been held up for several hours at Trudeau airport.

He said opponents of the trade treaty are not welcome in Canada. He wasn’t able to speak at the event.

After hours in customs, Bové was allowed to go to his hotel but his passport was confiscated, according to the CSN union, which was involved in organizing his trip.

In an interview on Radio-Canada this morning, Bové says border services agents told him he was being expelled because of his previous convictions, which he said is strange because he’s been to Canada many times before with no problems.

Bové will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. ET, hours before he is expected to be sent back to France.

A history of activism

Bové became famous in the 1980s and 1990s as an activist. In 1999, he vandalized a McDonald’s restaurant to protest against free trade in agriculture.

His career has been punctuated by other acts of civil disobedience that twice landed him in jail in the early 2000s. He was elected to parliament in 2009 as part of the Groupe des Verts party.

Jean-Marc Desfilhes, his press attaché, said he and Bové had the same visa and Desfilhes got through customs without any issues.

“He isn’t a criminal. He is an elected member of the European Parliament. This is simply an extremely embarrassing situation,” Desfilhes said.

CETA has not been signed or ratified, although a signing ceremony is expected in Brussels later this month. If it is ratified by the European Parliament, some of its measures could be provisionally applied as early as 2017.

Critics say the deal will hurt farmers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Bové says it seems that in Canada authorities would rather talk about the free exchange of goods than free exchange of ideas.

A spokesperson for Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale says decisions on who is allowed into Canada are left to the discretion of border services agents.

The Canada Border Services Agency hasn’t yet returned calls for comment.

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