Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yes Joe, I AM Canadian too...

...but I, a Canadian, am very annoyed at my homeland. And I'm ashamed that we are now discriminating against the citizens of a member country of our continent.

Today Canada implemented a new regulation and now requires Mexican citizens to have a visa prior to any travel to Canada. The 'reason' (excuse)?

“The visa requirement I am announcing will give us a greater ability to manage the flow of people into Canada and verify bona fides. By taking this important step towards reducing the burden on our refugee system, we will be better equipped to process genuine refugee claims faster.”

It took longer than an hour for me, an English-speaking native, to wade through all the bureaucracy on the website, download all the necessary downloads, print all the various instructions, and figure out where Miguel fits into the requirements. I'm still not sure I have it right.

Some of the requirements will be very difficult to meet, as many Mexicans do not have bank accounts, they don't pay income taxes, and they don't own property or cars. I can only imagine that this will drastically reduce the number of Mexican tourists visiting Canada, because along with the visa process, there is a non-refundable $150 fee attached ("to recover our costs").

For the last 3 years Miguel has travelled to Canada once a year. He has a passport, we bought the airline ticket, and that was that. Simple.

Now he has to provide every single detail of his personal life to some paper-stamper in Mexico City, pay $150, and wait for approval or rejection. Yes, he has a business and pays Hacienda, but that is only recent - Canada wants to see 3 years of records. They simply don't exist.

NAFTA is obviously not doing anything like the European Union, which supports the freedom of movement of people. Nope, North American countries are making it harder and harder to visit and just be a normal tourist. All in the name of "verifying bona fides".

Sorry, I don't buy it.


Ann said...

Sorry for all the troubles. At least he has you to help him with all the paperwork! How long is the visa good for once you get it? Don't understand why you would have to get this on top of the passport...

Sue said...

We will go for a multiple-entry visa, so we don't have to go through this every time he comes to visit. The US has been doing this visa process with Mexicans for years (which is why we never travel through the US to get to Canada), but Canada was always happy to accept Mexicans with just a passport until now. We are building huge barriers and people will just decide to go elsewhere, where they don't have to bother with the hassles.

CancunCanuck said...

I am as upset as you, I think this just stinks and screams of racism. We were hoping to get to Canada this year, but I am rethinking now, going through the process for both husband and son seems daunting. Why only Mexico and Czech Republic? If they made it a requirement for all countries, I may not be so upset, but specifically stating that it is just for those two countries makes me angry.

Life's a Beach! said...

I can't imagine having to supply that kind of info and jump through those hoops to travel into a country for a visit. What if the Mexican government retaliated with the same process for U.S. and Canadian citizens? They wouldn't, of course, because that would further erode the tourist dollars they depend on. And the U.S. and now Canadian governments are taking advantage of that fact. Hope the Mexican government doesn't start turning all the baby boomers away when they flee to Mexico because they can't afford to retire up north!

Islagringo said...

It looks like Canada and the USA can now legally join forces and rename themselves The United States of Racism.

I can so understand how you feel since I am and always have been totally ashamed of my home countries treatment of (wannabe) guests to their shores.

Sue said...

Looks like there is a huge backlash coming, and I am hoping this will result in a reversal of the decision. I mean seriously - HOW did they think Mexicans would be able to get visas for imminent travel from the one and only place in the country they can go to - Mexico City - if they are travelling in the next couple of weeks? The site says DO NOT go in person - does anyone in office in Canada have A CLUE as to how difficult getting all the paperwork together and copied and completed, and then MAILED and RETURNED is in this country? They have NO clue what they have just imposed, and this will mean thousands of legitimate tourists will not be able to visit. Nice work, government.

I feel so sad for those who have already paid for airline tickets (which are not cheap when flying direct and bypassing the US), and made other reservations and only hope that they will get full refunds due to having an impossible mandate imposed on them. But not likely, most likely they will be out of pocket for their costs.

Canada, instead of figuring out a way to deal with 10,000 Mexican refugee-claimants (that will mostly be declined) and the paper-work, has decided they will now deal with 250,000 detailed visa requests instead??? THAT makes sense???

And not giving people advance notice makes sense because if they had given advance notice more refugees would have stormed the doors in advance of the deadline? What odd thinking.

How about just simple screening documentation instead of a life history for each tourist? Or how about welcoming our partner in NAFTA and working with them to deal with the 'refugee' issue separately?

Common sense and humanity seem to be a dwindling resource in society, and certainly in government. How do these idiots get elected and then get away with this and the prime minister just sits back and lets it happen?

Tourists are NOT immigrants, so why the detailed visa? Have people do an advance declaration, and if someone says they are coming as a tourist, and then presents as a refugee, well - there should be a clear process for that. And for all the other 250,000 (-10,000) Mexican tourists who simply want to come and visit and go back to Mexico - let's just leave them alone and welcome them. Canada has always been considered to be a friend of the Mexicans - everyone I've ever met either wants to visit or has visited and loved the country and spoke proudly of how they were treated there.

I'm so ashamed of Canada.

CancunCanuck said...

And never mind the fact that most Mexicans do not have home computers and may not know of the new rules. They'll have tickets in hand and quite possibly be unaware that they will not be allowed entry. There are news stories coming out of DF that the embassy is in a state of chaos today, I sure hope so, may they suffer the pains of their terrible new rule.

Troy & Carreen said...

Wow Sue! I have been reading your blogs since my wife and I met you back in Oct 2008. This is the first time I have felt compelled to write. We are US citizens that for the past 10 years have felt embarrassed to tell people where we are from because of the loud message our government has expressed towards our latin friends. We used to say we were from Canada :) and now they are doing the same as us? Im sure it is motivated by the US in securing our nothern borders from the "dangerous illegals". It is amazing how our country, founded on immigration (did we come here legally?), does everything to keep people out unless they are willing to pay. Everything here is a joke, all politics...we really miss the tranquility and wonderful people of Isla Mujeres!

Sue said...

Canuck - I hope they are suffering, they supposedly hired 55 temps to deal with the volume. How well-trained do you suppose they might be to be able to approve visas?

Troy - HI!! Too funny that you used to tell people you were from Canada. And I hear you on the feelings of shame at your own country. Sad to say I now feel the same - our reputation has been damaged and even if they reverse the decision there will be a lot of people with long memories who must think that Canada is pretty dumb to have even implemented such a stupid thing to begin with (and especially in the time frame and without advance notice). I feel for those who have lost their vacations. Just playing the numbers, 4% of Mexicans were claiming refugee status. That means 96% were not a problem. What happened to the 80/20 rule? Seems they wanted to use hard numbers rather than percentages because it looks better - but if you look at percentages and volumes, it gives a different take on the problem. Fix the darn problem! (I read that they have had many open positions on the refugee committees for years, so they are to blame for the backlog). There is a bad smell in there somewhere, I hope someone uncovers it. (On another note...Please say Hi to Careen!)

Bennie said...

WOW. This is a huge change. And not a positive change. It's been that way for the states for a while I just hate to see Canada follow us.