British Columbia·Poll

Free movement proposed between Canada, U.K, Australia, New Zealand

When James Skinner moved from the United Kingdom to Australia and then to Canada, he was ready to settle down in his new home — only to realize that permanent residency was much harder to obtain than he anticipated.

James Skinner says free movement of citizens already occurs in the EU, and between Australia and New Zealand

The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization wants to see free movement policies between Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. (Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization)

When James Skinner moved from the United Kingdom to Australia, he fell in love with Melbourne, landed a great job, met a great group of friends, settled down in his new home — only to leave because permanent residency was much harder to obtain than he anticipated. 

Skinner, who now lives in Vancouver, says he fears the same experience could happen again.

"We are virtually the same people," he told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff, referring to countries within the Commonwealth.

"The only thing that divides us is the cover of our passports."

Skinner, who is the founder and executive director of the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization, is calling on politicians in Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand to loosen restrictions on visas and work permits between the four countries.

He says citizens within the European Union can work and reside indefinitely in each of the 28 member states, and a similar policy occurs between Australia and New Zealand.

There's no reason why something similar can't happen between Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, he argued.

"We've had that Commonwealth tie for generations and decades in the past, we've stuck together through thick and thin, [we] share the same head of state, the same native language, the same respect for the common law," he said.

"It's not something completely out there that we're proposing."

The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization's petition has already gathered nearly 25,000 online signatures.

Skinner says he plans to send the petition to politicians in New Zealand and Australia, and then to the Canadian and British governments, pending elections in each respective country.

To hear the full interview with James Skinner, click on the audio labelled: Group calls on free movement between Canada, U.K., New Zealand and Australia.

Poll: Should citizens be free to move between Canada, U.K, Australia, New Zealand?


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