The Council of Canadians, a social action organization, invited José Bové to Montreal to speak about his opposition to a trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
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 four 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.
Bové will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. today, hours before he is expected to be sent back to France.
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 prison 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.
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 Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement is expected to go into effect in 2017. The deal was one of a few topics Valls, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard were expected to broach during Valls’s visit. Critics say the deal will hurt farmers on both sides of the Atlantic.