Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto might have to delay his planned visit to Ottawa next year in protest against the Canadian government’s imposition of a traveler visa on Mexicans, said Ambassador Francisco Suarez to The Canadian Press last Sunday. This would add a blemish on the joint celebration of the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries.
“We’re now really mad,” said Suarez.”Canada has the most stringent visa system for Mexicans of any country in the world […] The Canadians require 10 times more information than the Americans.”
Suarez pointed out that the requirement of a visa to cross the border generates much inconvenience for Mexican travellers whose government has been dedicating future infrastructure and mining projects to Canadian firms, such as Bombardier and Goldcorp, and in support of Canadian efforts to build the Keystone XL pipeline with the United States. Suarez also expressed his dissatisfaction about the application process of a Canada visa, stating that he was offended by questions, such as the date of his parents’ death, on the application forms.
On the other hand, the Harper administration argues that it needed to reform its refugee system plagued by backlog before lifting the imposition of a traveller visa on Mexicans, because its immigration system had received too many unacceptable refugee claims. Earlier this year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada placed Mexico in a list of “safe” countries, meaning that it is now difficult for Mexicans to obtain refugee status in Canada, as they cannot readily demonstrate that their particular situation in their home country is one of violence and instability.
Mexico demanded the Harper administration to lay out a timeline or roadmap for lifting the visa requirement, but Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird did not fulfill that request.
“President Pena Nieto cannot come here if the topic is not solved. It will have to be delayed,” concluded Suarez.
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