Free interprovincial trade once and for all

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The theme of the post-COVID-19 economic recovery is on everyone’s lips, and there’s no shortage of debate about what should be done. According to some, the government should raise taxes on the rich, as if this were a way to promote growth. For others, this is an opportunity to implement an ecological transition, something that poses a big risk for the Canadian economy. Yet there is a simpler, less risky way to get from A to B: Free up interprovincial trade once and for all.

For decades, Canada has been signing trade agreements — with the United States, with Asian countries, and with the European Union, among others. Given this trend, it made sense for the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) to see the light of day in 2017 in order to encourage trade between the provinces. After all, Canada itself was founded in good part because of the need to create an internal market to protect us from American protectionism.

The CFTA was necessary because of the numerous trade barriers erected between the different provinces. Statistics Canada has estimated that in 2017, these barriers represented the equivalent of a 6.9 per cent customs tariff. Unfortunately, few provinces have taken the opportunity to improve their practices. Alberta and Manitoba have made substantial efforts to encourage interprovincial trade, but most of the other provinces have not followed suit. Worse yet, British Columbia has actually added obstacles to interprovincial trade.

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