Canadians want EU-style mobility between UK, Australia, New Zealand: poll

A Canadian flag flies in the wind at Granville Island in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday June 30, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE/Darryl Dyck

Three-quarters of Canadians want to be able to move and work freely between four Commonwealth countries, a new poll says.

The poll, which was conducted by the Royal Commonwealth Society, looked at public opinion on free labour mobility between the nations, which include the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand as well as Canada.

But it didn’t offer a solution to how the policies would look, only specifying that it would be like the European Union’s current agreement with Britain, which gives Brits the right to live and work in the EU, and allows Europeans to live and work in the UK.

The United Kingdom is currently in the midst of a debate on whether or not to remain a member of the EU.

While 75 per cent of Canadians were in favour of the idea, only 58 per cent of Brits agreed.

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New Zealanders were the most supportive with 90 per cent of the population agreed with the concept.

In Australia, 70 per cent were in favour of the idea.

The poll also found that younger Canadians were the least in favour of the idea. Only 71 per cent of people aged 18-24 supported it, while 77 per cent of people age 30-39 supported it.

Out of the 25 per cent of Canadians who didn’t agree, two-fifths of them were unsure.

“We actually expect the number of Canadians who support free movement between these countries to be much higher,” said James Skinner, Founder and Executive Director of Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation.

Skinner’s group “works closely” with the Royal Commonwealth Society and advocates the freedom of movement between the Commonwealth nations. He compared the proposed agreement with the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement between Australia and New Zealand, saying it has greatly benefited both partners.

“Allowing free movement of citizens between these two countries has allowed both Australia and New Zealand to utilise labour resources to help fill labour market shortages and employment gaps, which in turn, has benefited both countries greatly in terms of economic growth,” Skinner told Global News through an email.

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“We are not only exposing Canada to a greater pool of labour resources to expand the economy, but giving Canadians the choice of relocating to select Commonwealth countries (if they choose) to find employment opportunities not available for them in Canada,” he said.

The idea of free labour mobility between the Commonwealth countries isn’t new. It first arose when British MP and Mayor of London Boris Johnson made a trip to Australia in 2013, and has been debated since.

A petition calling for the “free movement of citizens” between the four countries has over 100,000 signatures.

Polling was done by YouGov, but in Canada, Nanos Research conducted the poll on its behalf, according to a release.

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