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WIN! Public pressure allows Bove to stay in Canada, speak at Groundswell conference

Maude Barlow and Jose Bove in Brussels this past April celebrating the 15th anniversary of the protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

Jose Bove, a Member of the European Parliament and critic of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), is now allowed to stay in Canada for seven days, but questions remain about why he was detained entry into the country and forced to miss a public forum on CETA last night in Montreal.

Postmedia News reports, “Bové had been scheduled to speak Tuesday night at a debate about the free trade agreement and then attend the Council of Canadians annual meeting in Newfoundland. However, after keeping him waiting for several house, [Canada Border Service Agency] agents confiscated his passport and ordered him to return to the airport on Wednesday for a [1 pm EDT] flight back to France.”

The article notes, “When he arrived at Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport on Tuesday, he said agents with the Canada Border Services Agency told him that he was not welcome in Canada because he had been jailed for driving his tractor into a McDonald’s restaurant that was under construction in 1999. Bové said he was protesting the importation of beef containing hormones. …[And] he said he has visited Canada several times since his arrest in France, including the Summit of the Americas conference in Quebec City in [April 2001] and to promote a book.”

“Bové wonders whether his threatened expulsion is linked to a trip to Canada by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who arrives in Canada on Wednesday to promote [CETA]. …Bové said it was incredible that Ottawa had considered not allowing an elected member of the European Parliament to stay in Canada to discuss the trade deal. ‘I am here as representative of the European Parliament, which has to approve this agreement’, he said. ‘If there had been a plane from Montreal to Paris last night [Tuesday], I am sure I would have been on it.'”

Council of Canadians members and allies from around the world responded with media conferences, telephone calls and by tweeting the prime minister to ask how such a situation could have arisen. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow tweeted last night, “Jose Bove, our invited guest, to be deported to France! Shame!”

The good news is that, “Hours before Bové was scheduled to be expelled from Canada, the federal government intervened saying the French anti-globalization activist can remain in Canada after all. …However, he has to pay $200 to reclaim his passport.”

Prior to the news that Bove could stay in Canada, the Canadian Press reported Bove “wants Trudeau to tell him why he can’t stay”. Bove said, “I feel like asking Mr. Trudeau: ‘What’s got into you? And why do you, someone who always wants to come across as the most open person on the North American continent, accept such a situation?’ It is pretty incongruous. Is it because the French prime minister, Mr. Valls, who supports the free-trade agreement, arrives in Ottawa today? Is it because you will be in Europe next week to try to sell the deal?”

The CBC notes, “Alex Lawrence, a spokesperson for International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, denied any interference, saying the government supports ‘open, public debate — including about trade’.”

While we are glad that Bove will be able to speak at our conference in St. John’s this coming Friday, CBC recently reported that the Trudeau government is also revoking citizenships at a much higher rate than the Harper government. That news article noted, “The Trudeau government used powers granted by the Harper government’s controversial citizenship law to make 184 revocation decisions without legal hearings between November 2015 and the end of August. About 90 per cent of the decisions resulted in a negative finding and the loss of a person’s citizenship.”

One Canadian citizen has been targeted by the federal government because she had declared herself single in her application for permanent resident status. The government deemed the woman married even though she fled an abusive marriage in Iran and considered herself single.