A French comic charged multiple times in Europe with hate-speech violations landed in Canada on Tuesday and then hinted several hours later he had to leave the country.
Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, known simply as Dieudonne, arrived in Montreal ahead of several shows he was set to give, beginning Wednesday night.
Later, Dieudonne said on his Facebook page he had to do a "there and back" but that he would return to Canada on Wednesday.
His arrival came a few hours after a fresh conviction in France for another violation of that country's hate-speech laws.
He was sentenced to pay €10,000 and given a suspended two-month prison sentenced for anti-Semitic language during a performance.
Dieudonne was scheduled to give 10 Montreal shows before heading to Quebec City and to Trois-Rivieres.
He has been charged numerous times in France for violating anti-Semitism and hate-speech laws, prompting Jewish groups, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and many Canadian politicians to say he is not welcome.
Dieudonne's fans say he is misunderstood and that they appreciate his comic performances, which offer pointed critiques of France's cultural and political elites.
The promoters for Dieudonne's Quebec tour say they have reviewed his material and don't believe he will run foul of Canada's hate-speech laws.
His expected arrival was met with public outcry as well as an alleged act of vandalism against the Montreal venue where he is scheduled to speak, organizers said Monday.
He remains popular in France and around the world; his official Facebook page has more than one million likes.
On Monday, federal Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said she wouldn't go to his show, but stopped short of saying he shouldn't be allowed into Canada.
"It's up to (border agents) to make a decision based on his past," said Joly, who represents a Montreal riding. "It goes without saying that discriminatory comments will not be tolerated."
Michelle Rempel, the Conservative immigration critic, said Dieudonne should be denied entry to Canada.
"His messages go completely against the Canadian values of religious freedom, tolerance and pluralism," Rempel said in a statement.
The African-themed art gallery in Montreal that is hosting Dieudonne's 10 performances, beginning this Wednesday, has been vandalized.
A window was smashed last week, said gallery owner Mushagalusa Chigoho, who filed a police report.
He said that despite the incident, the show will go on.
"When the wine is poured you have to drink it," Chigoho said in an interview.
Chigoho's front window was also recently defaced with racist graffiti but the perpetrator came forward Monday and said it was a drunken antic not related to Dieudonne's scheduled performances.
Dieudonne tour promoter Gino Ste-Marie, who is based in Quebec City, said he recognizes the comic has in the past "crossed the line of what is acceptable."
He was scheduled to perform in Montreal in 2012 but the shows were cancelled after the promoter bowed to pressure.
The New York Times reported in 2014 that Dieudonne had been charged at least 38 times by French authorities for violating the country's hate-speech laws.
More recently, he was found guilty of condoning terrorism in France in March, 2015, for a Facebook post and last November was convicted in Belgium for alleged racist and anti-Semitic remarks during a 2012 show in the city of Liege.
Ste-Marie says the comic's show, entitled "Dieudonne en Paix" ("Dieudonne Coming In Peace"), is unlike his past performances and the public figures who have come out against him "haven't done their homework."
He said "we live in a free Quebec" and people have the right to listen to people who others might find distasteful.
"I am president of the Quebec jazz festival and I wouldn't have promoted (Dieudonne's) show if it was like it was in the past," he said. "I've already read the text of what he will present. He's a man who wants to live a normal life."