On the eve of the royal decameron, the country’s tourism minister is trying to explain how to attract foreign visitors to Canada.
“Tourism is Canada’s lifeblood,” Marc Garneau said Thursday in a speech at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
“We have a lot of opportunities, a lot more opportunities than we think.
The challenge is to attract the right type of people to come, to spend their money and to have a good time.”
Garneau’s comments follow a flurry of speculation that the prime minister will soon announce a ban on tourists entering Canada on a national security or other basis.
A federal government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The government has proposed relaxing the restrictions on foreigners entering Canada in order to make way for more tourists, and Garneau has repeatedly said he is “committed” to finding a solution to that problem.
The minister is set to unveil the details of that plan Thursday morning in Ottawa.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and RCMP are the primary agents for Canada’s national security, Garneau told a gathering of the Royal Canadian Legion at the National War Memorial in Ottawa Thursday.
He was referring to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) as well as the Royal Canada Mounted police and Canadian Coast Guard.
“This is an issue that needs to be solved and we have to work together, but we have not done that,” Garneau was quoted as saying by CBC News.
The prime minister has also repeatedly said the Canada Border Services Agency needs to do more to prevent illegal border crossings, including the establishment of a new national database that would help identify those who enter Canada illegally.
The issue of illegal immigration is particularly pressing in New Brunswick, where Garneau is scheduled to meet with New Brunswick Premier Mark McGowan, who has promised to make border crossings a priority.
New Brunswick’s border has been under a tight security lockdown since October and McGowan has promised that a new fence will be built along the province’s eastern border.
The New Brunswick government has promised a border-crossing fee of $150 to $300 for Canadians travelling to New Brunswick or anyone who enters New Brunswick illegally.