President Enrique Peña Nieto made a telephone call to Canada last night to congratulate the winner of yesterday’s federal election, one of whose campaign promises was to remove the controversial visa requirement for Mexican visitors.
Peña Nieto spoke with Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau shortly after the Canadian politician and leader of the Liberal Party gave a victory speech in Montreal.
Trudeau came from behind to win a majority government, taking power from the Conservatives under Stephen Harper and pushing aside the previous front-runner, the New Democratic Party.
In a statement, Peña Nieto said Canadians and Mexicans enjoy a historical friendship that can be further strengthened through political, economic and social ties. Canada is Mexico’s third largest trading partner and its fourth largest source of direct foreign investment.
More than 96,000 Mexicans live in Canada, the second largest Mexican community abroad, after the U.S.
Meanwhile, 60,000 Canadians live full-time in Mexico and many more visit. Last year, 1.7 million Canadian tourists visited Mexico, making Canada this country’s second-largest source of foreign visitors, again second to the U.S.
President Peña Nieto said via his Twitter account the two countries have the opportunity to begin a new chapter in their relationship, one that has been rather frosty in recent years though he did not say so.
Relations soured after the Canadian government in 2009 set a new rule requiring Mexicans to obtain a visa before entering Canada.
Trudeau said in September he would remove that requirement if elected. Accusing Conservative leader Stephen Harper of having soured relations between the two countries, he promised to “do right by our continental neighbor,” according to a report by The Canadian Press.
He observed that since both nations are members of the North American Free Trade Agreement there should not be travel barriers for citizens.