• UKIP has come out in support of Commonwealth Canada, after the EU tried to bully it into changing its immigration policy to suit the EU.
Canada placed visa requirements for certain Eastern European countries when they joined the EU, and the EU has begun a campaign (click on picture) to try and force Canada to change this and allow no-questions-asked immigration into Canada from Eastern Europe. It has suggested cancelling the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada if Canada does not obey the EU's demands.
"This is a bastardisation of trade policy for political ends," said UKIP MEP David Campbell Bannerman, member of the International Trade committee in the European Parliament. "Trade policy should be confined to the mutual commercial interests of the parties involved. It should not wander off into a host of political and social agendas."
"The Canadian government showed a lot more sense than our own government in 2004," he added. "Whilst the UK allowed open doors immigration to the whole of Eastern Europe, Canada took very sensible measures to protect its borders. In fact Canada's immigration policy is one we admire very much".
The campaign, which goes under the provocative 'Why can Vaclav Havel not enter Canada freely?' was also attacked by David Campbell Bannerman MEP. "In the same year Canada introduced visa restrictions, it awarded Havel the Order of Canada in 2004. Far from snubbing Havel, this is one of the highest honours Canada can bestow on a foreign citizen".
David Campbell MEP also attacked the shameful way the EU tried to use the name of Vaclav Havel to open the door to all Eastern Europeans. "Havel is a courageous man, but hardly representative of everyone in Eastern Europe. It has its criminals, its drug pushers, its people traffickers and its mafiosi. One imagines Canada's very sensible immigration laws are aimed at them".
Campbell Bannerman also stated his disgust that the Conservative party group is involved in this attack on Canada. "Amongst the main players in this attack on Canada is Miroslav Ouzky, a member of the Conservative Party's ECR group. David Cameron ought to be ashamed that their group is so centrally involved in such a vicious attack on a Commonwealth country"
The Written Declaration is supported by members of the EPP, S&D, ALDE and ECR groups in the European Parliament.
Prior to the 2004 EU enlargement into Eastern Europe, all EU citizens qualified for visa free travel to Canada. In 2004, Canada introduced visa requirements for citizens of the new Eastern European member states like the Czech Republic.
This had not always been the case. In the 1990s, Canada had lifted visa requirements for Eastern Europeans, and found that there was then a large wave of Eastern European asylum seekers entering Canada, particular Roma gypsies.
In 1997, NOVA TV, (Czech TV) aired a documentary which drew attention to the welfare state of Canada for immigrants. Josef Klima, the reporter, found many emigrants on their way to Canada openly talked of their desire to go on welfare once they arrived. Many Eastern European immigrants became involved in crime and welfare dependency in Canada.
Furthermore, during much of 1997 shelters intended for the homeless in Toronto were full to bursting with Roma extended families (source: Washington Post, September 1st 1997). So, in 2004, the Canadians introduced visa restrictions to prevent a repeat of what had happened in the 1990s.
As an EU member state, the Czech Republic cannot negotiate its own trade or immigration policy, so it is trying to get the EU (which controls both) to bully and economically threaten Canada.