The relationship between Mexico and Canada, which is being touted as having entered a ¨new era,¨ has gotten off on the right foot. The first world leader to congratulate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his electoral victory the night of October 19 was Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
At the G-20 Antalya summit in Turkey, held November 15 & 16, the leaders of Mexico and Canada took advantage of the gathering to have their first ¨one on one¨ meeting, with meetings among their cabinet members also taking place.
As a show of the ¨seriousness¨ Trudeau´s new liberal government wants in the relationship with its second commercial partner in North America, in both his electoral campaign and government platform Trudeau has pointed to the necesity to eliminate the visa for Mexicans in order to improve the relationship with this country.
A visa requirement for Mexico was imposed by surprise on July 14, 2009, under the previous conservative government of Stephen Harper, based on the fact that in 2008 – according to official figures – Mexico was number one in petitions for refugee status, the majority ¨unfounded,¨ according to immigration officials.
On that Tuesday, July 14, Harper´s government announced the enforcement of the visa, only giving a 48-hour grace period to those already on the verge of travelling to the Maple Leaf country.
The sudden enforcement of the visa put the brakes on requests originating in Mexico, while at the same time the Canadian government admitted that it would be necessary to make adjustments to their processing system to receive asylum, a process which ended up lasting five years and whose maintenance costs fell upon Canadian taxpayers.
The visa requirement not only became a problem for their commercial partner, but also for Canada´s tourism industry, which saw income drop by 49% in the first four years of the new immigration requirement. This was because thousands of Mexican tourists and students stopped going to Canada, put off by the long and meticulous visa process.
The new liberal government is looking to normalize the traffic of Mexican tourists in hopes of returning to the levels from before Harper´s enforcement of the visa.
In a short interview during his campaign, Justin Trudeau told Notimex that he would remove the visa for Mexicans.
Once having taken power on November 4, the new prime minister instructed his ministers of Immigration and Foreign Relations to prepare the act to eliminate the visa for Mexicans.
For the moment, no information has been given on a date to fulfill this promise, but it is expected to be in the coming months. For now, the priority for Trudeau´s governement is to open Canada´s doors to 25,000 Syrian refugees who will be arriving from Jordan, Libya and Turkey by February 29.