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Rae says visa rift will hurt Canada-EU, North American summit talks

The National Post reports that, “The Swedish presidency of the European Union threatened retaliatory action toward Canada yesterday over new visa requirements for Czech citizens.”

“(Immigration Minister Jason) Kenney said Canada reluctantly imposed the new visas because refugee claims from Mexico and the Czech Republic have skyrocketed in recent years.”

“Czech asylum seekers to Canada may be on the rise, because increasing numbers of ethnic Roma have been subjected to persecution and violence from neo-Nazi skinheads and other racists, say advocates.”

“Sweden, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said yesterday it favours a retaliatory visa on Canadian tourists visiting the 27-country bloc. While forcing Canadian tourists to get a visa for Europe would be a major change, the EU’s review process could take months.”

“Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said the Conservative government’s ‘mishandling’ of the visa issue would hurt Canada’s trade ambitions with the European Union and its economic partnership in NAFTA with Mexico.”

Rae said, “This latest diplomatic misstep can only harm Canada-EU free-trade negotiations and the upcoming security and prosperity summit with our NAFTA partners. It’s just another example of how the Conservatives are ruining our trade relationships, costing Canadian jobs, and further eroding our international reputation.”

While still to be confirmed the North American leaders summit is expected to take place on August 9-10 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Formal talks on the Canada-EU economic partnership agreement are scheduled to continue on October 19-23 in Ottawa.

For Council of Canadians analysis on NAFTA, the SPP, and the Canada-EU EPA, please go to http://canadians.org/trade/index.html.

The National Post article is at http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=1794762.