Saturday, October 22, 2016

French critic of CETA prevented from entering Canada allowed to say for a week

Jose Bove a French farmer, member of European Parliament, and anti-globalization activist has been allowed to stay in Canada for seven days after being told yesterday he would have to leave the country today.

However, Bove missed his speaking engagement scheduled for Montreal last night. The Council of Canadians had asked Bove to speak on his opposition to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). He will be able to attend a conference at St. John's later on this week.
After Bove had spent hours in customs by Canada Border Services Agency on Tuesday, Bove had his passport confiscated and was informed he had to leave Canada on Wednesday afternoon. He was told he was being expelled because of his previous criminal convictions, including one in which he vandalized a McDonald's restaurant.Bove has been convicted of crimes resulting from his activism a number of times. However, he has been to Canada many times before with no issue. His experience in the U.S. has been different: In February 2006, Bové was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at New York's JFK Airport as he arrived en route to Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations for events sponsored by Cornell's Global Labor Institute. According to Bové, the Customs agents told him he was "ineligible" to enter the U.S. due to his past prosecutions for "moral crimes". After being detained for several hours, Bové was placed on an Air France flight to Paris.[2]
At a new conference Wednesday Bove called on Canadian PM Prime Minister Trudeau to explain why he was held at the airport. Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians described the situation as "outrageous" saying: "Is the case for CETA on such thin ice that it can't withstand free speech?" Alex Lawrence, a spokesperson for Chrystia Freeland denied that there had been any interference from the government. A spokesperson for Ralph Goodale, the Public Safety Minister said that decisions as to who can enter Canada is at the discretion of border service agents. Lawrence claimed that the government supported open public debate including about trade, as the only way to build public support and consensus.
Jean-Marc Desfilhes, Bove's press attache who was able to clear customs with no problem, though he had the same visa as Bove, said: "He isn't a criminal. He is an elected member of the European Parliament. This is simply an extremely embarrassing situation." CETA has not yet been ratified or signed but a signing ceremony is expected in Brussels later on in the month if it is ratified by the European parliament. Bove claims the deal is bad for farmers in both the EU and Canada. Critics say it is dangerous for the environment as well as unjust socially. A detailed critical analysis of CETA can be found on the Policy Alternatives website.