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CANZUK (pronounced /kæn‘zʊʔk/, CAN-zuk) is the political philosophy of economic and political integration of the Anglosphere or the White Commonwealth. The name comes from the abbreviation of the countries in question; Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, hence why it is always written in all capitals.
The idea is that these four countries should work together and allow near-complete freedom of capital, goods, and services, but principally freedom of movement between the four countries — effectively a European Union among Anglosphere. The philosophy rose during and after the Brexit referendum as providing an alternative to the European Union, although such a "union of English-speaking peoples" has been around since Britain's membership. The phase CANZUK come from a book written in 2016 by the anglophile American writer James Bennett called A Time for Audacity.
CANZUK is often used as a counter against integration in terms of the European Union and the United Kingdom. With the thinking being, 'why should we discriminate against Australians and New Zealanders who are our “kith and kin”, compared to those French, German and Polish foreigners?" So naturally, it is Eurosceptic. The organisations that promote this philosophy is CANZUK International (formerly known as the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation) founded by Canadian-resident Briton James Skinner and CANZUK Uniting by Canadian Brent Cameron. Supporters of CANZUK are often known simply as "CANZUKer" in their own jargon.
British Conservative Imperialism in 21st-century clothes
While it claims to be non-partisan, it is a deeply conservative philosophy, with all the people spouting support for it being conservatives. Notable supporters included New Zealand-born British writer Andrew Lilico, British Conservative MPs Bob Seeley & Andrew Rosindell, Canadian Tory leader Erin O'Toole, and Australian Liberal Senator James Paterson. It should also be pointed out that the chaps who formalised the idea of CANZUK, James Skinner of CANZUK International (who currently works as a paralegal in British Columbia), is a former Vice-Chairman of Conservative Youth. Brent Cameron used to work as a parliamentary assistant to Canadian Tory MPs and James Bennett is a fellow of the conservative think tank the Hudson Institute. While James Paterson, before he was a Senator, was working as a fellow in the hard right-libertarian Institute of Policy Affairs.
CANZUK has been pushed by Atlas Network connected Thatcherite think tank Adam Smith Institute. At the end of 2018, another connected think tank also supported CANZUK, the libertarian Institute of Economic Affairs. In the 2018 Conservative Party convention, O'Toole persuaded the party to make CANZUK formal policy in the 2019 federal party manifesto. In February 2019, Bob Seeley tried to set a Westminister CANZUK all-party parliamentary interest group to promote this philosophy. However it didn't come to fruition until September 2020, and even then, out of the 11 officers [members], only two are from the opposition Labour bench, with the rest being Conservatives and one right-wing DUP MP.
Notable sympathisers to CANZUK are the former Liberal prime ministers of Australia John Howard and British-born Tony Abbott, former Australian High Commissioner to the UK [Ambassador] Alexander Downer, British historian Andrew Roberts, former owner of the National Post and the Daily Telegraph newspapers Conrad Black, British former prime minister Boris Johnson and former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, plus former Canadian Tory leader Andrew Scheer.
The initial idea was that the four countries would allow the current visa requirements for Australians and New Zealanders to live and work in each other's country under the Closer Economic Relations policy of the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, to be expanded to include the UK and Canada. However, since the Brexit vote, it has expanded to include trade and economic links between the four countries.
The idea has been rejected by most people in the respective countries due to a number of reasons; despite this, however, many conservative blogs and websites still support the idea of CANZUK, with many believing that it could revive the British Empire.
"Kith and kin"
CANZUKers say that the reason for linking the four counties is that they all have the same monarch, similar parliamentary systems, legal systems of common law, and trade position of being free-market liberals and the fact they all speak the same language. They tend to emphasize the “Britishness” between the nations, using the term “kith and kin” to talk about their "people".
They conveniently ignore that all have republican movements, which are especially strong in Australia, with the former leader of the Australian Republican Movement being certain former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Although they have parliamentary systems, the Beehive in Wellington is unicameral; Australia and Canada are confederal, and Australia and New Zealand use voting systems found in Ireland and Germany, respectively. With regard to legal matters, both Scotland and Quebec have a version of civil law for their courts. Historically, all — particularly both Canada and New Zealand — were notoriously protectionist, with their monetarist trade practices only coming about in the 1980s under Brian Mulroney and Roger Douglas. And finally, Quebec is majority Francophone, messieurs.
Another problem with CANZUK is that it ignores non-Anglo interests within the respective countries, both ethnic and linguistic. The biggest problem would likely be with New Zealand, which has both a 28% non-Anglo population and a somewhat ambiguous Treaty of Waitangi between the Maori and the non-Maori that could be brought to bear on any change in the status quo of the monarchy.
It is perhaps not surprising that most of the non-British CANZUKers have a British or predominately British or Anglo background. Even among the American supporters, they tend to have a British background.
Ask why CANZUKers don’t want to include places like Malaysia, Singapore, India, and the United States. They claim the CANZUK countries “are highly economically developed countries, with sustainable economic growth, positive human rights, records and a shared historical and cultural bond through a democratic monarchy.” Also, if the United States was in, it would dominate the group instead of the British.
Many CANZUKers are obsessed with the military, and often use the phrase “Five Eyes” as another term for CANZUK, which refers to the Five Eyes intelligence system of links between the police forces and intelligence services of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and often conveniently forgetting the elephant in the room, the United States. Five Eyes itself is based on an agreement during World War II, when Churchill and Roosevelt agreed not to spy on each other and to coordinate matters on intelligence. Many CANZUKers laud any military coordination between those four countries, such as proposals for suggesting co-operation in naval matters in East Asia between the UK, Australia and New Zealand as a way to beef up British military support.
However, CANZUKers conveniently forget that the sole international military alliance that the UK is involved in is NATO, in which only transatlantic North American and European nations are allowed to be members. CANZUKers also conveniently overlook that not all conflicts near and far were supported by all other nations, such as the Iraq War, which was boycotted by Canada and New Zealand, and the Vietnam War, which was not taken up by the British and the Canadians.
The mask slips
During the 2022 Ottawa protests, CANZUK International put out a message that it condemns the behaviour of Ottawa City Police and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, claiming it was authoritarian government overreach by evoking a state of emergency. The apparent support for the Freedom Convoy has led many left-wing CANZUKers to disown the group and move away from the movement.
- Kenny, Michael, Pearce, Nick (2018) - Shadows of Empire: The Anglosphere in British Politics, Wiley ISBN 9781509516612
- Murphy, Philip (2018) - The Empire's New Clothes: The Myth of the Commonwealth, C. Hurst & Company (Publishers) Limited, ISBN 9781849049467
- Bell, Duncan, Vuectic, Srdjan - Brexit, CANZUK, and the Legacy of Empire
- The CANZUK Union Explained - Explaining Brexit - from YouTuber, TLDR News
- Geoghegan, Peter - Adventures in 'Canzuk': why Brexiters are pinning their hopes on imperial nostalgia, The Guardian
- Roussinos, Aris - Why ‘CANZUK’ is an absurd fantasy - Evangelists of an Anglosphere federation should worry about their own backyard first, UnHerd
- Bennett, James C, Time For Audacity: How Brexit Has Created The CANZUK Option
- Bennett, James C, "Brexit boosts 'CANZUK' replacement for European Union: Column" USA Today
- CANZUK Uniting
- Uk Parliament House of Commons Hansard - 13 January 2020 - Debate: Britain in the World
- Erin O'Toole Talks CANZUK with CANZUK International, YouTube
- Hansard Senate - 5/07/2017, ADJOURNMENT - Trade, Speaker: Paterson, Sen James Parliament of Australia
- James Skinner - LinkedIn
- Kilcoyne, Matt, "Our CANZUK friends should be welcome in post-Brexit Britain" City AM
- Powell, Jack, "A “Global Britain” must embrace migration" Institute of Economic Affairs
- 2019 Manifesto - English Version. Université de Laval - POLTEXT: Conservative Party of Canada. 2019. pp. 81. "A new Conservative government will also make sure that Canada is at the forefront of advocating for the CANZUK alliance. CANZUK is the diplomatic shorthand for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – nations that share common histories and legal systems, and similar views and voting histories in international political fora. The CANZUK movement proposes enhanced free trade, seamless military interoperability, and security and intelligence sharing."
- MP, Bob Seely (2019-02-13). "This evening we launched an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Canada, Australia, New Zealand & the UK #CANZUK partnership. In coming months we’ll explore opportunities to collectively deepening relationships over Trade & Travel, Defence & Diplomacy. @CANZUK" (in en).
- Register of All-Party Parliamentary Groups - UK Parliament
- Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups [as of 24 September 2020] Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK (CANZUK)
- Bourke, Latika, "Alexander Downer flags 'freer movement' for Australians emigrating to Britain", Sydney Morning Herald
- Booten, Matthew, Will CANZUK bring back the British Empire after a 2020 Brexit?, Politic-Ed
- Australian Republican Movement
- Frequently Asked Questions, CANZUK International.
- Archive on 4 - Return of the Anglosphere BBC Radio 4
- Canzuk Defense opportunities in 2019, Daily Globe
- See the Wikipedia article on Foreign relations of NATO § Global NATO.
- We 100% condemn the actions of @OttawaPolice and @CanadianPM in recent days, including acts of police brutality and authoritarian government overreach. These actions do not represent what CANZUK stands for. 🇨🇦🇦🇺🇳🇿🇬🇧 #cdnpoli #Canada by CANZUK International (2:15 PM - 20 Feb 2022) Twitter (archived from February 20, 2022).
- CANZUK International weighing in on the Ottawa protest (via Insta). Comments are mixed. Should CANZUK International weigh in on things like this? - Reddit