Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has formally committed to removing visa requirements for Mexican citizens entering Canada, a policy imposed by the Conservative government in 2009 to stem the flow of Mexicans seeking asylum here.
Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto said that Trudeau confirmed the commitment during a face-to-face meeting with Canada’s new prime minister at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey.
“Justin Trudeau confirmed that he has signalled his cabinet to remove in the future the Canadian visa requirement for Mexicans,” Pena Nieto wrote in Spanish in a post on Twitter Sunday.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau discussed mutual issues with Pena Nieto, including climate change, and “reiterated the [election] platform commitment to lift the visa requirement on Mexican citizens.”
The requirement had become an irritant between the two countries with the Mexican ambassador saying in 2013 he was “really mad” at Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
Olivier Duchesneau, the deputy director of communications for Trudeau, could not say when Mexicans would be able to travel to Canada without a visa, but told CBC News by phone today that the prime minister had instructed members of his cabinet to move forward with the change.
Top priorities for Liberal government
Trudeau instructed Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion in a mandate letter made public last Friday to lift the Mexican visa requirement.
The prime minister said he expected Dion to work with other cabinet colleagues to “strengthen trilateral North American co-operation with the United States and Mexico.”
A top priority for Dion, according to Trudeau’s mandate letter, is to “support the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship in lifting the Mexican visa requirement.”
Another top priority is to “work with relevant ministers, including the ministers of international trade and environment and climate change, to prepare for the North American Leaders Summit in Canada.”
“3 Amigos” Summit soon?
The Mexican president also said he and Trudeau discussed the trilateral annual summit between the prime minister of Canada, and the presidents of Mexico and the U.S., which Canada was set to host by year’s end.
“We agreed on the importance of realizing before long the North American Leaders’ Summit,” said Nieto in a subsequent post on Twitter.
The last North American Leaders’ Summit was held in Mexico in February 2014. Canada hasn’t hosted one since 2007, when it was held in Montebello, Quebec, Canada.
Duchesneau, the spokesman for the prime minister, told CBC News today that no date or location has been set for the meeting.
The so-called Three Amigos summit had been scheduled for February but was postponed indefinitely by the Conservative government.
The decision to push back the summit came as a general election loomed in Canada and a decision by the U.S. president on the approval of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline was still pending.
U.S. President Barack Obama recently rejected the pipeline application, ending a seven-year saga that became an irritant in Canada-U.S.relations.
Pena Nieto also said on Twitter that he concluded his meeting with Trudeau by inviting him to visit Mexico.