It's a farfetched idea, but a popular one nonetheless — the proposal to create a political union between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK in order to allow free movement of goods and citizens between the countries continues to gain momentum worldwide.
A recent poll conducted showed that over half of respondents in each of the four countries were in favour of a CANZUK merger as of April 2018. The most enthusiastic nation was New Zealand, with 82 per cent of people showing support for the idea. Canada, Australia and the UK also showed strong results, showing 76 per cent, 73 per cent and 68 per cent support respectively.
CANZUK International is a non-profit organization that has been an advocate of the freedom of movement concept over the past few years. It was inspired by the experiences of UK native James Skinner, now CEO of the organization, who faced difficulties while moving from the UK to Australia earlier in his life due to visa and permanent residency restrictions. Since then, he's been fighting to strengthen the already-established relationships and socio-economic bonds between the four countries and to make free movement between them a reality.
"We are virtually the same people," Skinner told CBC."The only thing that divides us is the cover of our passports."
Free movement would allow for greater ease of travel for citizens as it would impose minimal restrictions. The proposals would cover the following:
- Free mobility rights for the citizens of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK to live, work and study in each other's countries,
- Amendment of the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement (a free movement model) between Australia and New Zealand to include Canada and the UK,
- Development of a free trade agreement that would remove customs barriers and limitations to commerce, and
- Cooperation between the countries on issues concerning foreign policy, defence and intelligence (Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, NATO and the UN Security Council).
A petition started by CANZUK International now has over 230,000 signatures and continues to gain new supporters every day. The organization plans to reach 250,000 or 300,000 signatures before finalizing the proposals and submitting them to the government bodies.