Catalan leader threatens to sue Canada over travel document

Carles Puigdemont was supposed to arrive in Quebec in the spring for an event organized by a group dedicated to protecting francophone rights, but still hasn't received the travel document he needs.

Carles Puigdemont still hasn't received the document he needs to attend an event in Quebec

Former regional Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who has been trying to gain entry to Canada for an event hosted by a francophone rights group, has given the the Canadian government three days to issue his travel document. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

The exiled former president of Spain's Catalonia region is threatening to sue the Canadian government over a document he needs to travel to Quebec.

Carles Puigdemont sent a legal letter to the government on Tuesday, Radio-Canada has learned, giving Canada three days to produce his travel permit.

The letter said since May, Puidgemont has submitted more than 400 pages of documents to support his request.

Puigdemont was supposed to arrive in Quebec in early April to take part in an event organized by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a group dedicated to protecting francophone rights, about the failed 2017 referendum on Catalonia's independence.

However, Puigdemont didn't get what's called an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), an entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air, in time. Stéphane Handfield, Puidgemont's Quebec-based lawyer, said it usually takes three days to issue an ETA.

Puigdemont used a private agency to apply for his travel permit instead of applying directly on the government website, which led some of the delays.

He reapplied for the travel document in May, and rescheduled his trip to Quebec for June, but still hasn't received anything. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada would not comment on the matter.

Maxime Laporte, president of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, questioned whether the government is intentionally stalling.

"The masquerade has gone on long enough," he said. Laporte said he wants to hear what Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer think about the situation.

Puidgemont fled Spain in 2017 to avoid prosecution after his regional government held an unauthorized referendum on independence.

In July, Spain's Supreme Court dropped a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont after Germany refused to extradite him for rebellion, one of the initial charges. 

But earlier this week, the Spanish Supreme Court issued an international arrest warrant for Puigdemont on charges of sedition and misuse of public funds.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Sébastien Bovet