Brent H. Cameron is a Senior Advisor with Concierge Strategies, and a local councillor in Ontario, Canada. The second edition of his 2005 book, “The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade: Options for a new globalization” is available on Amazon worldwide – both in paperback and in Kindle e-book formats.
Self-reflection is an important exercise, even if the fast-paced world we live in does not lend itself easily for such respite. It gives you time to step back, considering both the journey you have been on and the road ahead.
I had occasion to do just that when I went through some old emails dating way back. I did find one dated October 28, 2003. It was a time when my wife and I had a toddler and were hoping for another child. I was younger and fuller of energy than my present self. We lived in an apartment in a village, above a shop that I co-owned with my parents. My grandparents, my in-laws, and my father were still with us, and our concerns for the future were much different then.
A couple of months earlier, I sat on a porch in southern New Hampshire sharing with my closest friend in the world a “crazy idea” I had on the drive to meet up with him. The email was accompanied with a 57-page Word document that formed the very scant outline of something that has been a major part of my life ever since.
On page 47, it reads in part:
“Phase 1 would see the creation of an initial grouping of four nations – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. This group represents the most affluent and industrialized economies of the Commonwealth. Combined with stable political, judicial and social institutions, their ability to quickly integrate into a CFTA is vitally important if the organization is to have the ability to expand and succeed.
Based on 1999 World Bank estimates, the combined GDP of the CFTA at this phase would be over US$3 trillion, making it the world’s third largest free trade zone – behind NAFTA and the European Union. This gives the CFTA, at this stage, the critical mass needed to move forward.
Phase 2 expansion of the CFTA would occur after the structural framework of the organization was firmly in place, and when eligible states were ready to complete negotiations.
This phase would focus on linking regional centers of power, such as Singapore (ASEAN), Commonwealth members of the CARICOM group, and the Republic of South and would allow the organization the ability to build the framework necessary for further growth.”
The first part of it does not include the familiar CANZUK acronym – even if it references the four by name. At that time, the idea was about something bigger, and potentially more transformative. It was about connecting with a broader Commonwealth membership as each country could legitimately assume the responsibilities of being a full partner.
I wasn’t alone. At this time, forward-thinkers like James C. Bennett and John O’Sullivan were doing ground-breaking work on the ideas that have defined the Anglosphere movement, even before we started writing years that begin with a 2 in our cheque books.
Our own Daily Globe Publisher, Ted Yarbrough, in 2014, explicitly referenced Singapore as part of something that could be characterized as a Commonwealth 5, or “C5” grouping, when he wrote:
“I see strong advantages from freedom of movement with allies such as Australia, and thus I propose making freedom of movement in a “C5” of the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore. The C5 … would be a big step towards establishing the UK as a world leader, not a nation arguing with self-important Eurocrats; begging them not to impose more rules.”
Others, like Isaac Anderson, through his CRCC work, have also long seen this broader vision.
While CANZUK is not yet a reality, it has significantly evolved from a handful of forward-thinking innovators in the early 2000’s to the popular grassroots movement that exists today. That is a testament to the hard work, dedication, collaboration and selfless efforts of so many. It remains important work, but greater challenges also lie ahead.
It is that greater challenge that is the reason why I am proud to join with my Daily Globe colleagues and others to launch the “C5 Network Initiative.”
The C5 concept is one that has the potential of further transforming the global economy and giving new energy to a liberal democratic consensus that has become anodyne and lacking in ambition for the past two decades.
In the coming days, weeks and months you will see and hear more. It is a challenge that many of us are eager to take on and share with all of you.
We envision a new movement that compliments – not competes with – the important work the CANZUK community has done over the years, that opens new opportunities for trade, free movement, security and scientific collaboration. We see it as a natural progression.
Thanks to the firm support and hard work of so many of you, a strong foundation has been built. It’s now time to reach further upward.
As G.K Chesterton once observed “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
For this adventure, consider this your personal RSVP.