By no means would this be throwing caution to the wind. Protectionism between the provinces has long been identified as a drag on our economies, yet little has been done about it – but there’s hope.
The latest hint of an aim to remove trade barriers between provinces comes from three of the western premiers. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Alberta Premier Dave Hancock and B.C. Premier Christy Clark have sent letters to their counterparts across the country calling for a more up-to-date approach.
Considering the wave of free trade agreements continuing on the global stage, it’s always puzzling the concept is approached with kid gloves within Canada.
These three leaders are saying that the current domestic agreement allows for anti-free trade provisions. It can turn into a tit-for-tat game.
We could certainly find examples. DSME Trenton, for example, in trying to establish markets for its wind towers ran into roadblocks when looking toward Quebec and Ontario. That’s hugely frustrating. A company’s competitive edge needs to be based on factors such as quality, price and service or the result is a system that fosters losers.
It also means a company located in a less populous area, such as the Maritimes, faces more of a struggle in building success.
The western leaders will put the subject front and centre at a premiers conference in Charlottetown in August. We expect a receptive audience, since every province across Canada is looking for ways to diversify and grow their economies.
It would also be a good exercise to help them compete internationally.
Recall the federal government in the past year made a move to align the credentials needed for a number of trades across the country – one way to reduce red tape.
This proposed knocking down of trade walls is another example of how the country needs to think like a country.
It would also mean better prices for consumers – and as long as they are a key force in driving our economies, that’s a big plus.