Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a) of the question, the government is undertaking a comprehensive analysis with federal departments and agencies, analyzing relevant criteria set out in Canada’s visa policy framework. Canada launched visa dialogues with each of these countries in spring, 2016. The dialogues are bilateral processes to gather information related to pre-identified areas of concern or interest under Canada’s visa policy criteria. As a part of the dialogues, Canadian officials from IRCC, the Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP; and Global Affairs Canada, GAC, conducted a technical visit to Romania in June 2016, and Bulgaria in July 2016, to assess both countries against Canada’s visa policy criteria.
With regard to part (b), IRCC does not hold public consultations on matters of visa policy. Federal partners, namely GAC, Public Safety Canada, the CBSA, and the RCMP were consulted on the necessary elements of the technical visits conducted this summer, as well as the findings of the visit. As these discussions are a part of ongoing regular business, specific dates and locations cannot be provided.
In response to part (c), in both cases, Canada has undertaken a comprehensive analysis to vigorously assess the criteria set out in Canada’s visa policy framework, and has engaged extensively with Mexican, Romanian, and Bulgarian officials. Canada is building on existing collaboration with Mexico to implement specific mitigation measures prior to the visa lift date and to support a sustainable visa lift. While the approach may not be identical, Canada is working collaboratively with Romania and Bulgaria on the visa issue as evidenced by the launch of the visa dialogues. Romania and Bulgaria remain important partners for Canada, and Canada maintains its commitment to work towards the shared goal of visa-free travel for citizens of all European Union member states.
With regard to part (d), Canada’s visa policy criteria are applied universally. The criteria applied in the assessment of the Czech Republic’s readiness for a visa exemption were the same as those being currently applied to Romania and Bulgaria. Visa policy criteria cover a variety of aspects, including socio-economic conditions, migration trends, travel document integrity, border management, safety and security issues, human rights issues, and bilateral and multilateral issues.
With respect to the different circumstances and findings of visa policy assessments of the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Romania, in processing parliamentary returns, the government applies the Privacy Act and the principles set out in the Access to Information Act, and certain information has been withheld on the grounds that it may be injurious to the conduct of international affairs.