Stephen Harper heads to Mexico for Three Amigos meeting
Canada's visa requirements for visiting Mexicans to top agenda for President Pena Nieto
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to discuss plans for new visa arrangements when he meets with his U.S. and Mexican counterparts in Mexico tomorrow and Wednesday for the so-called Three Amigos summit.
Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto are scheduled for three-way talks covering areas of mutual interest. Harper arrived in Mexico Monday night.
At the top of the agenda for Mexico are Canada's visa requirements for Mexican visitors. While the prime minister isn't expected to drop those barriers immediately, there may be some easing of the application process.
There are hopes that Canada and Mexico may agree sometime soon on "Nexus-style" travel permits that would allow legitimate travellers to visit participating countries with fewer restrictions.
Trade Minister Ed Fast, who is also travelling on Harper's plane, has been authorized by the federal cabinet to sign an expanded airline access agreement with Mexico, The Canadian Press reported today.
That agreement would allow Mexican airlines greater access to more cities, and Canadians more direct flights to Mexico.
The expanded air access would likely be a precursor to the Conservative government eventually lifting the controversial visa it slapped on Mexican travellers in 2009 to combat an increase of bogus asylum seekers. Harper isn't expected to announce a lifting of the visa this week, but the two countries are hopeful the issue can be ironed out in the coming months.
Mexico is said to be very frustrated with Canada's refusal to drop visa restrictions for Mexicans visiting Canada.
"It's an insult to the 'new Mexico,'" Carlo Dade, director of the Canada West Foundation's Director of the Centre for Trade & Investment Policy, told CBC News.
"It's also against competitiveness. This isn't about Canada and Mexico. This is about North American competitiveness."
Harper could be in for disappointment, too, as Obama is unlikely to give him his long-awaited decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.
The formal name for the trilateral meeting is the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS).
Previous summits were held in:
- Washington, D.C. (April 2012).
- Guadalajara, Mexico (August 2009).
- New Orleans (April 2008).
- Montebello, Que. (August 2007).
- Cancun (March 2006).
- Waco, Texas (March 2005).
With files from The Canadian Press