Magazine article The Spectator

More Canada!

Magazine article The Spectator

More Canada!

Article excerpt

The more elderly among The Spectator's readership, who still secretly mourn the loss of Nyasaland and the Aden protectorate, may be pleased to hear that a small step was taken last month towards reversing the Empire's inexorable decline. More surprising still, the idea behind this expansion comes from an American economist and the flag raised will be not the red ensign but the maple leaf. But it's a start.

The original proposal (mentioned here three years ago) is to create 'charter cities' in the developing world where the institutions, infrastructure and government are not those of the surrounding nation but are imported wholesale from somewhere else.

City-states whose success supports this approach might include Hong Kong, Macau or Singapore; earlier precedents are found among the Baltic cities of the Hanseatic League. The state of Pennsylvania was granted to William Penn under a similar 'charter' arrangement.

Why reinvent the city-state? Paul Romer, the economist behind the idea, simply observed that, in trying to change the world you needed to start somewhere - a village was too small and a nation state too big.

His current plan is to create a Canadian exclave in Honduras. 'Developing countries [will] create special zones for reform, known in Honduras as la Region Especial de Desarrollo (RED).

Countries can then partner with credible allies, like Canada, to implement new economic and social rules on a greenfield site to which people are free to opt in.' Canadians and Hondurans could move in freely and buy property under Canadian law.

'Each site would have four common elements: 1. an undeveloped piece of land large enough to one day accommodate a city; 2. a charter that specifies the broad rules that will apply to that city; 3. a commitment to choice, allowing residents to freely enter or leave; and 4. …

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