Harper not expected to lift visa requirements for Mexican travellers
Published Saturday, February 15, 2014 3:42PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 15, 2014 7:43PM EST
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not expected to lift visa requirements for Mexican travellers during a leaders’ summit in Mexico next week, a senior government source has confirmed to CTV News.
Canada imposed a visa requirement on Mexican travellers in 2009 in an effort to clamp down on the increasing number of false refugee claimants.
The matter may be a topic of discussion when Harper travels to Toluca, Mexico for a North American leaders’ summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Feb. 19.
The Mexican government wants to see changes to the visa system, which they view as a “major irritant,” according to Mexican Ambassador to Canada Francisco Suarez.
The envoy told The Canadian Press in late 2013 that Canada has the most “stringent” visa system for Mexicans.
He said Mexicans have a much easier time obtaining visas to the United States and face no such restrictions in European Union countries.
"The Canadians require 10 times more information than the Americans," Suarez said.
Harper has said that he would like to lift the visa requirement, but says Canada must first reform its refugee system.
Ian Brodie, Harper’s former chief of staff, criticized the visa requirement over Twitter Saturday, saying it hurts Canadian trade with Mexico.
“How many Canadian exporters have trouble doing business because their Mexican customers need visas to come and do business here,” he tweeted.
I just don't support a job killing visa for Mexicans any more than I support job killing taxes.— Ian Brodie (@irbrodie) February 15, 2014
Minister for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney responded over Twitter:
. @irbrodie The 9400 Mexican asylum claims we got in 2008 alone cost Canadian taxpayers nearly $500 million.— Jason Kenney (@kenneyjason) February 15, 2014
A 2014 report published by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives found that tourism dollars from Mexico have declined in recent years.
In 2008, Mexican tourists spent $365 million in Canada, the report found, but in 2012, the number fell below $200 million.
Canada’s Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, Maxime Bernier, recently said the government is putting a priority on getting rid of the visa requirement and wants to do what it can to attract more tourists from Mexico.
With files from The Canadian Press