...Perversely, we have more difficulty selling goods and services between and among our own provinces and territories than we do to and from the United States. More than twenty years ago, we established what is called the Agreement on Internal Trade (ait). Yet beer, wine, transportation, energy, labour, construction, government procurement—all are affected by barriers of one sort or another.
But just this July, the members of the Council of the Federation (Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers) emerged at the end of their gathering in Whitehorse and announce, with no small amount of fanfare, an “historic”, “ground-breaking” “agreement” on opening internal trade. They even gave it an ambitious name, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (cfta).
All of which sounds positive, except for one problem: there is no agreement, there are no details—for all the noise, all we got was a short press-release-geared statement about an agreement-in-principle. And recalling that over the years, prior sets of premiers have made similar announcements but to no real effect, one is left with something of a boy-crying-wolf feeling about this announcement. The words “historic”, “ground-breaking” and even “agreement” sound very positive—certainly for the politicians—but they are entirely hypothetical without a strong enforcement mechanism to keep the parties in line...
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