While the United States hears calls to wall off Mexicans, Canada is welcoming them more than ever. On Dec. 1, the Canadian government lifted the visa requirement for Mexican citizens traveling to Canada for up to six months, including for tourists, business people, and diplomats. (The visa was implemented in 2009 under the Stephen Harper government. Mexico does not require Canadian visitors to have visas). The change was announced on Oct. 1; the same day, Mexico lifted its controversial ban on imports of Canadian beef. Maclean’s spoke with the Mexican ambassador to Canada, Agustín García-López, about the growing friendship between Canada and Mexico.
Q: Given Trump’s promise to isolate Mexico from the United States, are Mexico and Canada becoming the two amigos?
A: The “three amigos” must remain so. In campaigns, [candidates] say many things. You have a purpose, which is to get voted. We have to wait on whether the president-elect will be the president, and the government has to look at its own relationships. Already the announcement has been made different than the pronunciations in the campaign. The wisest thing is just to wait. There are too many “ifs.”
But what I can tell you is that the momentum between the Mexico-Canada relationship is already there. It’s happening. It’s a very close circle. We have what’s called the Canada-Mexico Partnership. This year we met in Ottawa. We were 180 people sitting on both sides of the table. We do more than $32 billion in trade. You are our second-biggest partner in tourism, with almost two million tourists a year.
Q: So, no more travel visas will be necessary for Mexicans entering Canada. What will be the immediate impact?
A: In dollar terms, it will be wonderful for you. In 2009, we had 300,000 Mexicans coming to Canada. After the visa was imposed, we had only 120,000. First of all, it was an expensive process—it was around US$100 per traveller, and of course it went up if you had a family. It was also a process that had a very lengthy questionnaire, and questions that were in all kinds of realms, even in terms of your parents, your sons, your family.
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