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The 15 Year Road Trip

The second edition of Brent H. Cameron’s book, “The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade: Options for a new globalization is available now on Amazon worldwide.

In 2003, I went on a road trip, from our home in rural southeastern Ontario, Canada to southern New Hampshire, about 50 miles north of Boston. It was a long drive in a minivan that went down into New York state, and then down the Massachusetts turnpike.

My wife and her sister were riding in the front, and I was in the back, along with our three-year old son.

The ladies in the front were busy in conversation, while my son gravitated back and forth between sleep and listening to a CD that played a series of children’s songs, performed by some choir of kids.

After staring out the window at the ever changing scenery along the Interstate, your mind begins to wander. You think about things more than you normally would. You work out problems in your head.

Hours later, we arrived at our destination and the jumble of thoughts and ideas I had stewed over formed the rudiments of ‘The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade.’ The ideas had been there for a while, but they were scattered. It took a long drive – and listening to a choir of eight-year olds singing “The Grand Old Duke of York” for the thirtieth time – to crystalize it all.

The next day, I would share my ideas with my closest friend from my student days – someone who would be instrumental in helping shepherd along editions one and two, and is still an informal ‘academic advisor.’

Fifteen years after that trip, and a lot of things have happened – Brexit, and the emerging CANZUK movement. The geopolitical landscape is markedly different, and what was considered a flight of fancy among an eccentric handful is now legitimate and increasingly mainstream. In an environment where inertia and self-doubt has seized a sizeable portion of the cognoscenti, these ideas have begun to experience what my colleague James C. Bennett frequently refers to as a ‘preference cascade.’

At the end of this month, the Conservative Party of Canada will be holding a Policy Convention in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The motions adopted will form the basis of that party’s manifesto in next year’s federal general election. Among the policy resolutions is one that calls for the negotiation and ratification of a CANZUK treaty – a necessary precursor to a wider Commonwealth trade deal.

It is with some disappointment that I will not be there to see what happens. I won’t be able to vote on it, or celebrate its passage.

On the other hand, I do happen to know someone who will be a voting delegate at that conference. They will be able to support the CANZUK Treaty motion, and celebrate if it passes – that three-year old who sat in the back of the van, alternating between napping and children’s songs, while his Dad was staring out the window, ruminating over a jumble of thoughts.

Fifteen years on, and it seems we are still travelling down that stretch of Massachusetts turnpike…

About Brent Cameron

Profile photo of 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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