Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Calderón Lobbies Ottawa to Ease Visa Restrictions

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On his second state visit to Canada today, Mexican President Felipe Calderón will address easing visa restrictions for Mexican citizens seeking to enter Canada.  The two-day trip will include a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, several governors and an address to the House of Commons, as well as meetings with several Canadian business representatives in Toronto and Montreal. 

This trip comes nearly a year after Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that Mexican citizens would require visas to travel to Canada.  The reason: part of a strategy to reduce the growing number of what Kenney and Harper have called “bogus” refugee claims from Mexicans, which grew from 2,550 in 2005 to 9,309 in 2009.  But Calderón’s personal lobbying efforts may not bear fruit soon. Canadian Minister of the Foreign Affairs Peter Kent reaffirmed yesterday that the restrictions will remain until Ottawa reforms the existing refugee system, a process likely to take a couple of years. 

Calderón’s visit will focus on strengthening bilateral trade and investment as well as North American security. Harper announced plans last summer to send Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers to Mexico to provide basic training for their police force while bringing 32 Mexican commanding officers to Canada for leadership and investigative training.  Calderón is expected to press Ottawa to expand their efforts to fight drug-related violence in Mexico.

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