Craig Bakay | Mar 27, 2019
Central Frontenac councilor Brent Cameron has a day job — in communications in the Registrar’s office at Queen’s University.
But being a municipal politician and administrator in academia, he also needs a hobby. You know, to decompress and take his mind off things.
So, he writes books — in particular, The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade, Options For a New Globalization.
“It’s my pet project, my passion when I’m off the clock,” he said.
He first wrote the book in 2005 and much of his “case” is valid today, especially in the wake of the United Kingdom looking to break some ties with the European Union, ie “Brexit.”
To that end, Cameron went to England recently to discuss options and avenues for the 14th Anniversary edition of his tome, and coincidentally, he happened to be there for Commonwealth Day, spending time in poet’s corner of Westminster Abby with no less than Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II (OK, they didn’t chat or anything, but they were in the same room).
Cameron’s concept is that Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK have a lot in common and make natural trade partners; not the way they were during the British Empire days, but now, as equals, with reciprocal trade.
“In a nutshell, there’s a lot of research that would suggest there’s a 15-20 per cent overhead cut and cost benefit to trade between the four,” he said. “We share a common language, so no need for interpreters and translators. We have similar government systems and we share English common law.
“It’s comparing apples to apples.”
He said that in many ways, it’s like a free trade agreement except in this case, the trade tends to be more reciprocal.
“The U.S. does almost as much trade with China as it does with us,” he said. “With us, they make 2 cents on the dollar. With China, they lose about 51 cents on the dollar.
“Their trade with China is not reciprocal and it can’t last.”
He said the idea now is to restore some of the links but not the power imbalance with the UK, “not as ‘Mother England’ but as equals.
“We didn’t deal with Australia, Britain did… and we dealt with Britain.
“Britain was like the hub of a wheel but the whole thing should be more like a geodesic dome.”
He said that while he didn’t go to the UK as a trade ambassador for the Frontenacs, (“I was wearing a Central Frontenac lapel pin”), he sees potential benefits that could lead to substantial economic development here.
“There definitely could be more tourism, with less red tape and more flights,” he said. “And there could be markets for microbreweries and food services like Seed to Sausage.
“Weatherspoon has 600 pubs in the UK and there could be some opportunity for local producers to see some shelf space there — a Taste of the Commonwealth thing.”
He said the CANZAC pact represents about 140 million people with many common interests.
“We could trade freer, travel freer and see more Canadian products in London,” he said. “If some of those products could be from Central Frontenac, it would be wonderful.”