MONTREAL – A member of the European Parliament who opposes the Canada-EU free-trade deal has been allowed to stay in Canada after being threatened with expulsion.
Just a few hours before being scheduled to board an Air France flight out of Montreal on Wednesday, Jose Bove found out about the reprieve from the Canada Border Services Agency.
“I’ve just had the customs supervisor on the phone and he told me ‘there’s been a bit of a U-turn in your file,'” Bove told reporters after a news conference.
Bove, who was to pay $200 for the document that will allow him to stay for seven days, will actually leave the country this Saturday.
“Maybe I will also thank the prime minister (Justin Trudeau), who seems to have understood it wasn’t a good idea to stop me from coming here,” Bove said jokingly.
Earlier, he told the news conference he wanted Trudeau to tell him why he was being kicked out of Canada.
“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. (Manuel) Valls, who supports the (EU-Canada) free-trade agreement, arrives in Ottawa today? Is it because you (Trudeau) will be in Europe next week to try to sell the deal?”
Bove was detained for several hours at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport on Tuesday and was allowed to leave the airport on the condition he return Wednesday afternoon.
He says he was told he could not stay in the country because of convictions in France in 2001 and 2002 for incidents in 1999.
One of those incidents targeted a McDonald’s restaurant and the other involved genetically modified organisms.
Bove said he is sure he would have been put on the plane Tuesday night if Air France had another Paris-bound flight.
“If I’m here today (Wednesday)…it’s because there’s only one Air France plane a day going to Paris,” he said. “So thank you Air France for having only one plane.”