After the acrimonious conference of former British colonies at Singapore in 1971, it seemed as if the sun might be setting on the Commonwealth. But all 32 member nations, representing more than a quarter of the world's population, sent heads of state or surrogates to this year's conference in Ottawa. When the talking ended last week, the Commonwealth was still intact—or, at least, in roughly the same loose association it has somewhat incredibly maintained since its birth 42 years ago.

Not that all the talk was civil. Britain, which sort of made the whole club possible by at one time...

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