Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, has disclosed that he has written to his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper seeking to have the visa requirement imposed on Grenada lifted.
Dr. Mitchell who did not give specifics about the contents of the letter informed Grenadian Nationals residing in Canada that following a meeting he had with Prime Minister Harper two months ago in Toronto where he raised the visa restriction, he (Harper) encouraged him to officially write to him on the issue.
He recalled that during the meeting he detailed the hassle Grenadians have to face in travelling to Trinidad to try and obtain a Canadian visa.
Dr. Mitchell encouraged the Grenadian Nationals who have Canadian status to make the visa restriction a political issue for the upcoming Federal Elections in Canada.
“Remember, you have an election coming up, let your voices be heard,” he implored them.
Canadians head to the polls on October 9 in what is shaping up to be a three-way race between the incumbent Conservatives of Prime Minister Harper, Tom Mulcair’s New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Liberals which is led by Justin Trudeau.
Dr. Mitchell told the Toronto Town Hall Meeting that Grenada has had very good relationship with successive Canadian Governments over the years.
He said St. George’s has benefitted from many social programmes and infrastructural development funded by Canada.
The Canadian Government imposed the visa restriction on Grenada in relation to the selling of passports to questionable characters under a previous Economic Citizenship programme operated by a previous Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) Government.
It is estimated that the regime had sold close to 850 passports from 1997 when the programme was introduced until it was pulled.
The Canadians issued the following statement on its official government website on the imposition of the visa requirement on Grenadians:
“Full diplomatic relations with Grenada started when the country gained independence in 1974. Canada is represented in Grenada by the Canadian High Commission in Bridgetown (Barbados).
Canada has long enjoyed a close relationship with countries of the Caribbean such as Grenada. This is due to its significant Caribbean diaspora, commercial links, and a long history of Canadian aid and support for the region. Canadian exports to Grenada include pork meat, dairy products, fish, vegetables, pharmaceuticals, tires and wood.
Outside of the British Commonwealth, cooperation is frequent within the United Nations and the Organisation of American States. Grenada has signed and ratified the Landmines Convention and supported Canada’s 1999-2000 election at the United Nations Security Council.
Canada, through the Military Training Assistance Program and the Regional Security System, has provided training to the Grenada civil service. In the context of Cricket World Cup 2007, Canada provided Grenada and other Caribbean countries with specialized assistance in the areas of border security and public health.
Visitor visa restrictions were imposed on Grenada in December 2001, after increasing concerns with its Economic Citizenship Program. This program has since been suspended indefinitely. Canada’s consistent view remains that, unless citizenships sold under the program are rescinded, it is impossible to sort out which potential visitors to Canada from Grenada are legitimate citizens, and which purchased their status.