The Canadian Press
Ottawa: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is dropping its visa requirement for Mexican visitors as of December 2016, while Mexico has agreed to lift long-standing restrictions on Canadian beef imports by October.
Trudeau made the announcement Tuesday alongside Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is in Ottawa for bilateral meetings and Wednesday’s North American leaders’ summit.
“We share values, goals and ambitions,” Trudeau said, noting that the two countries were setting out to “take action in ways that will make a real difference in people’s lives.”
Trudeau also said the two countries have agreed to work more closely together on aboriginal issues.
The previous Conservative government imposed visas in 2009 to stop thousands of asylum claims being made by ineligible Mexican citizens.
It was a controversial decision that caught the Mexican government off guard, and has stood as the major irritant between the two countries ever since.
The Opposition Conservatives have argued the visa should not be lifted until its impact can be properly assessed.
The Tories have said the asylum rate for Mexican nationals fell below one per cent over the last four years, down from 25 per cent just before the visa requirement was put in place in 2008.
The Liberals promised during last year’s election campaign that the visa would be lifted, but the process has been fraught with delays.
Coming into today’s Mexico-Canada meetings and Wednesday’s expanded Three Amigos meeting, it was unclear whether the visa issue would indeed be resolved.
Pena Nieto is scheduled to attend a youth event at the Canadian Museum of Nature later Tuesday before a state dinner hosted by Gov. Gen. David Johnston at Rideau Hall.
Trudeau hosted a banquet for the Mexican president Monday in Toronto, where the prime minister said discussions between the two leaders over the coming days would include the flow of people and goods.
The two men will be joined on Wednesday by U.S. President Barack Obama for the summit, commonly known as the Three Amigos. A White House adviser said Monday that they will focus on a North American-wide commitment to cut methane emissions and release what the adviser says will be a comprehensive North American climate, clean energy and environment partnership.
A Three Amigos summit was scheduled to be held last year but was cancelled amid the Canada-U.S. dispute over the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the ongoing dispute over the visa requirement.