Friday , June 21 2024

Lunging toward the finish line

For those who have been pushing for Commonwealth free trade – specifically CANZUK as an initial phase – recent events have given much hope and buoyed spirits.

There is an adage in show business that it takes years to become an overnight sensation, and a lot of intrepid souls know that applies to ideas like this. What began as a small, but determined group has expanded steadily over the years. The support of political and business leaders, and from people from all walks of life, is heartening when this idea has been relegated to the periphery for so long.

The words of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer spring to mind:

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

It is hard for many not to feel an affinity for this adage. It feels very much like a lived experience.

When you challenge conventional wisdom, you get a long and rocky ride. No matter how much research and data you apply, the immediate reaction is to dismiss and deride what you’re proposing. You are relegated to being part of the ‘tinfoil hat’ crowd with nary a comment on the veracity of your idea.

If you’re stubborn enough to fight through this, your reward is to endure the second phase – the hostility and attacks from people who see your idea not as an improvement on the status quo, but a threat to their status and stature. The Brexit referendum of 2016 was indicative of that phase, with some of the most virulent and mean-spirited attacks on could imagine being leveled at Brexiteers – more than a few of which have embraced CANZUK and the Commonwealth as a natural fit for a ‘Global Britain.’

Of course, when all is said and done, you get to the third phase – acceptance. While we are not there yet, we are coming close.

New Zealand’s government has adopted an official policy supporting Commonwealth free trade. Leading political figures – including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott – have lent their voices in support. In Canada, one of the main political parties has endorsed CANZUK as part of their manifesto in the upcoming federal election, and – of course – Britain has a new Prime Minister who, just a couple of years back, wrote the foreword to a paper published by Commonwealth Exchange, calling for easing visa requirements within the CANZUK member states.

That says nothing of what is due to happen on October 31st.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and as I have frequently written, the liberal international order suffers from a vacuum of leadership, and a vacuum of ideas. CANZUK – and Commonwealth trade – will not fix the problem wholly, but it can be a positive step toward rehabilitating a moribund global system.

Two months after I completed the draft of the first edition of ‘The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade,’ my daughter was born. In about 2 weeks, she starts her second year of high school. Like some of my long-standing compatriots, I have learned the importance of patience.

Patience is important- but only to a point.

Like a marathon, runners get a second wind when they approach the finish line. The heart gets pumping, and the rush of endorphins give you the boost to quicken your pace, and to make a final dash.

In the past year, I undertook a second edition of ‘The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade’, and I am grateful for the support it has received. It was interesting to revisit something from a time when even Brexit itself seemed to be a long-shot, let alone anything resembling CANZUK.

Lunging for the finish line ribbon is what is needed, and I want to do my small part.

While it is in the DNA of a writer to sell books, I want to offer something to encourage the effort.

Starting now, and extending until September 6th, I’m going to give the book away.

To clarify – for those interested – I will send a PDF copy of “The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade”. All one has to do is send an email to and ask for a copy. I will send a copy of the book (322 pages in length).

There is no catch. No email list or subscription to get spammed by. You email for a copy and you get the file. The usual courtesies about attributing quotes and references notwithstanding, nothing is expected in return.

My hope is that you may find it useful and worth talking about, and the more we talk about the change we want to see, the more likely we can see that change become a reality.

Of course, if you want an actual print copy – or you wait until September 7th – you’ll still have to go through Amazon for that…

About Brent Cameron

A writer and commentator on Commonwealth trade issues, Brent Cameron is the author of 'The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade' (2004, 2018) and numerous essays and articles. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Commonwealth Exchange, a London, UK-based research group. Cameron worked as Telecommunications Coordinator for the Federal Ministry of Labour in Ottawa, Canada before joining SES Canada Research (now Nanos Research) as a Research Associate. He also worked as an assistant to former Ontario MPP Harry Danford, Member for Hastings-Peterborough and Parliamentary Assistant to Ontario's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Cameron was a member of the Advance Team for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney during the 1988 Canadian federal general election. During the 2007 Ontario Referendum on Electoral Reform, he acted as Coordinator for the 'No MMP' campaign for eastern Ontario (excluding Ottawa). Cameron has also served as a member and contributing columnist on the Community Editorial Board of the Kingston (ON) Whig-Standard newspaper. He holds an honours degree in politics from Queen's University and a Certificate in Municipal Administration from St. Lawrence College (Kingston, ON). In 2014, Brent Cameron was elected to the municipal council for the Township of Central Frontenac, in southeastern Ontario, Canada, and serving as Deputy Mayor in 2017.

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