That’s no way to treat a friend!

| April 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney

That’s no way to treat a friend!
Laura Neilson Bonikowsky

Trade between Mexico and Canada is significant and includes a wide range of products — from airplane and auto parts to crude oil and tequila. In NAFTA’s first decade, trade between the two countries more than doubled from $6.5 billion to exceed $15 billion. Mexico now ranks fifth among Canada’s trading partners.
Goods do not comprise the only movement between our countries; 1.3 million Canadian tourists visit Mexico each year and more than 10,000 of the 26,000 seasonal agricultural workers who come to Canada each year come from Mexico. By all measures, Canada and Mexico have a friendly relationship. Until 2009, that is, when Canada imposed a visa requirement on Mexican tourists and visitors entering the country. The Harper government’s rationale was that visas were necessary because refugee claims from Mexico nearly tripled from 3,400 in 2005 to 9,400 in 2008.
The “Mexodus” included a mass withdrawal of well-off Mexicans whose wealth made them extortion targets for narco-gangs such as Los Zetas, a notorious cartel infamous throughout Mexico. The visa restriction greatly reduced the number of asylum claims; in 2011, there were only 651 applications.
The visa requirements disturbed Canada’s association with Mexico and checked tourism. In late 2012, Canada began working with Mexico’s new president, Enrique Pena Nieto, to restore the relationship between the two countries. By February 2013, Canada had added Mexico to its list of designated countries (those that do not normally produce refugees). Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird observed that NAFTA “has proven there is an immense value in knocking down barriers to trade.”
As of early March, however, Mexicans travelling to Canada still required visas. And while Mexico is still struggling to deal with drug gangs, still has a questionable justice system and its human rights record remains spotty, it could be a linchpin in talks concerning Pacific trade. In short, Canada needs Mexico again.

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Category: Dispatches

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