Visa

Increased funding to expand the Electronic Travel Authorization in Canada

OTTAWA – The RCMP and Canada’s spy and border agencies reaped hundreds of millions of new dollars to fight terrorism in a federal budget that evoked the October killings of two Canadian soldiers in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa.

The five-year, $292.6 million commitment will give additional resources to the Mounties, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Canada Border Services Agency to fight terrorism and terrorist financing.

The new money is an answer to opposition critics who say that Canada’s law enforcement apparatus has been stretched too thin.

On border security, the budget pledged to expand the use of biometrics to identify all travellers requiring visas to come to Canada.

The budget also pledged $15.7 million over five years to expand the Electronic Travel Authorization program to speed up the entry of low-risk travellers from Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania and Mexico.

That measure appears to be aimed at ending some high-profile visa disputes that could have economic consequences for the Harper government.

The visa that Canada imposed on Mexico several years ago has greatly angered its NAFTA partner. Meanwhile, the visa requirement on Romania and Bulgaria is seen by some as a an impediment towards final ratification of Canada’s massive free trade deal with the European Union.