Ottawa is taking steps to ease travel for some Mexican visitors to Canada, while keeping a controversial visa requirement in place that has contributed to strained relations between the two countries in recent years.
The move comes as Canada prepares to lift a separate visa restriction for travellers from Chile, according to a government source, a decision that is expected to add to Mexican officials’ frustrations. The Mexican government has been pressing Canada to remove its visa requirement for years, saying it could stand in the way of efforts to strengthen economic ties.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced on Monday that Mexicans who have travelled to Canada or the United States during the past 10 years will be allowed to apply for expedited visa processing. The government said a pilot of the new program, called CAN+, had an approval rate of more than 95 per cent, with visas issued in a week or less.
David Goldstein, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, said he would like to see the government allow Mexicans to travel to Canada without a visa, but called the decision to expedite the application process “the next best thing.”
The Canadian decision related to Mexico and expedited processing of visitor visas is exactly the right medicine. Throwing open the doors for Mexicans to come to Canada without visas would be a mistake as we have already seen. Last time we left the door open it resulted in false claims to refugee status. Even now, according to this report, it may involve a security problem since Mexico is a society open to third country nationals who may want to enter Canada indirectly when they cannot do so directly from their country of nationality.