St. Kitts-Nevis Foreign Minister Hon. Patrice Nisbett has admitted that Canada imposed a visa restriction on SKN citizens in attempt to screen entry by those holding passports obtained through SKN’s Citizenship by Investment Program. Nationals of St. Kitts-Nevis lost their freedom to cross Canadian borders unimpeded when on Saturday (Nov 22) the Canadian government informed SKN citizens would now have to apply for visas through its High Commission in Trinidad. Nisbett explained earlier today (Nov 24) that Canada revoked the visa waiver access ” in pursuit of Canada’s security interests”. “St. Kitts-Nevis has a Citizenship by Investment Program, as we all know, and Canada wishes to be able to determine, for itself, exactly who does, and does not enter its territory,”he said. The Minister stressed the point that the Canadian government stated it continues to welcome “genuine visitors from St. Kitts and Nevis”and has a number of programs, including a multiple-entry visa, to make it easy for ‘such legitimate visitors’to travel to Canada. The Foreign Minister said a Government of Canada diplomat flew to St. Kitts on Friday (Nov 21) to meet with him to inform of the visa requirement. Opposition Leader, Nevis Deputy Premier Hon. Mark Brantley says while he has no evidence, he is convinced that the federal government knew about the pending visa imposition well in advance of the issuance of the Canadian government release. “It would be difficult to contemplate otherwise,”he told The Observer. He said from his own experience with diplomats, considerable private discussions would have taken place before any public pronouncements were made. Brantley addressed the nation last night (Nov 23), positing that with the visa issue, “our Nation has yet again been brought into odium and disrepute”. He opines that this move by the Canadian government is direct fallout from the Alizera Moghadam fiasco in Canada in 2013. The Iranian national was stopped at a Canadian airport with an SKN diplomatic passport, and when questioned about the purpose for his visit, reportedly said he was on official diplomatic business on behalf of St. Kitts-Nevis and was there to meet with the Canadian Prime Minister. This turned out to be false and prompted a visit by high ranking Canadian authorities. Iranian nationals require visas to enter Canada. Media reports from that country indicated Moghadam told authorities he had paid 1 mil US for the diplomatic passport, however the St. Kitts government denied it. “This occurrence in Canada led to immediate concerns there as to the safety and security of that country’s borders. As a consequence, the media reports confirmed that the Canadian authorities made urgent representations to the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis raising serious concerns about not just this but other incidents involving St. Kitts Nevis passport holders entering or seeking to enter Canada using the visa free status currently granted by that country to nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis,”Brantley said. He reminded of Nisbett’s November 26, 2013 speech to parliament following the Moghadam scandal where he said, “The Government of St Kitts and Nevis is therefore not aware of any efforts by the Government of Canada – or for that matter other countries – to effect changes to the visa free status waiver currently enjoyed by nationals and citizens of the Federation.”Nisbett’s assertion contradicted his June 2013 Cabinet submission where he expressed concern that there were ” possible implications for the continuation of visa-free status which the Federation enjoys with Canada”. “It was evident that Mr. Moghadam’s entry into Canada may have served as a catalyst and may be the precursor to further actions by the Canadian authorities,”Nisbett said then. Hon. Brantley contends that the warning signs leading up to ‘this unprecedented step taken by the Canadian Government”had been clear. He said unfortunately the citizens are now paying the price for the federal government’s solecism of the Citizenship By Investment program. “My fellow citizens the chickens have now come home to roost. This unprecedented step taken by the Canadian Government tells us all that they are unhappy with the security measures in place in St. Kitts and Nevis in relation to our citizenship by investment program. The problem now though is that you and I will pay a price for those undesirables whom the Denzil Douglas-led Administration has allowed to access our passports.”The Deputy Premier said citizens should not be surprised if countries that allow visa-free access for St. Kitts-Nevis nationals, like the United Kingdom and countries in the European Union follow suit.