Mexican authorities have welcomed the relaxation of entry rules for Mexican citizens traveling to Canada.
The Canadian government announced yesterday in its annual budget that Mexico and three other countries will be included under the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program.
Mexicans who are in possession of a United States visa or have had a Canadian visa in the past can apply online for the eTA and avoid having to apply for a visa. The option will be available in 2016.
The Foreign Affairs Secretariat welcomed yesterday’s announcement, which comes six years after Canada decided to require Mexican visitors to obtain a visa.
The new rule is a fundamental step toward elimination of the visa requirement, said the secretariat in a statement, observing that it comes as a result of diplomatic dialogue and the development of a deeper relationship between the two countries in the last two years.
However, the relationship wasn’t deep enough that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper thought it necessary to go ahead with the so-called “Three Amigos” summit in February. Canada postponed the meeting of the leaders of Mexico, Canada and the United States.
That decision has been blamed largely on the poor relationship between Canada and the U.S. as a result of the Keystone oil pipeline, which has been rejected by President Barack Obama. But the visa issue has been a serious source of concern for Mexican officials and it, too, has soured the relationship between the two countries.
In Canada there has been speculation that the postponement was due to concerns that Harper’s Conservative party might pay a price at the polls in the October federal election if there were a public spat with the U.S. and Mexico.
But it does send a message, says former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Michael Kergin.
“It indicates obviously with two of your large trading partners that you don’t have a very solid relationship. You can’t find things positive to talk about.”