Canada bars fabled farm activist

“It’s just another example of how our civil liberties are being suspended,” said Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the nationalist Council of Canadians, the group that had asked Mr. Bove to speak in Quebec City. “He speaks for millions of people, for farmers and landless peasants.”

The Globe and Mail
March 31, 2001

Canada bars fabled farm activist
Mark MacKinnon

Canadian immigration officials have put out an all-points bulletin to try to keep Jose Bove, the French farmer who gained notoriety for trashing a McDonald’s, from attending next month’s Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

And, in what appeared to be part of a concerted effort to keep leaders of the antiglobalization movement out of the country, another leading activist was being held up last night at the Ottawa airport.

A spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada told The Globe and Mail yesterday that a notice has been sent to all the country’s ports of entry, warning staff to be on the lookout for Mr. Bove.

“It’s just another example of how our civil liberties are being suspended,” said Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the nationalist Council of Canadians, the group that had asked Mr. Bove to speak in Quebec City.

“He speaks for millions of people, for farmers and landless peasants.”

The moustachioed sheep farmer became something of a Robin Hood figure after he and four others ere imprisoned for vandalizing a McDonald’s restaurant and locking up agricultural officials in France.

Attacking the fast-food chain, he said, was a symbolic gesture to protect against the rise of genetically modified foods.

The action also targeted tariffs imposed by the United States on French delicacies such as Roquefort cheese and foie gras, he added.

He was fined and sentenced to three months in prison, but is currently out on appeal.

Since the incident, Mr. Bove has emerged as one of the most notorious members of the protest movement that has hit several international gatherings in recent years, including the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle that were effectively shut down by massive street demonstrations.

Mr. Bove recently predicted that the Quebec summit – a gathering of 34 heads of state and government from across North and South America – would generate a protest that would make the Seattle street battle pale in comparison.

Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Quebec City for the April 20-22 summit to show their opposition to a proposed so-called free-trade area of the Americas (FTAA) that would include every country in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba.

Immigration spokesman Richard St. Louis said Mr. Bove would be kept out of Canada because of his conviction related to the McDonald’s incident. “There is a lookout for Mr. Bove because he is technically inadmissible to Canada…he has a criminal background,” he said.

Those with a criminal record cannot enter Canada without a special ministerial permit. However, Mr. St. Louis acknowledges that bulletin advising customs officers to keep an eye out for Mr. Bove was unusual and tied to his stated intention to attend the summit.

The campaign appears to be a broad one. As of yesterday evening, American activist George Lakey – who was to give a keynote speech on non-violent protest at a planned event tomorrow on Parliament Hill – had been stuck for several hours at the Ottawa airport while authorities questioned him about what he would be doing while in Canada.


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