Chances are by now you have heard Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau use the well-worn talking point “grow the economy” –often in reference to more debt being added in the Liberal 2016 budget then was promised during the October election. I mean no disrespect towards our Liberal Finance Minister but what if we could grow our economy without adding billions more in new debt? The reality is there a way and that way is to further eliminate inter-provincial trade barriers to the Canadian economy.
As much as the 2016 Federal Budget references international trade deals such as CETA (Canada-European Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement) and further mentions the opportunities of TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) it is largely silent on the importance of expanding internal trade. This is a disappointing oversight considering that internal trade is valued at $ 366 Billion – roughly 20% of Canada’s GDP.
More concerning is that in 2014 Canadian Premiers at the Council of the Federation conference in PEI announced that a new Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) would be concluded by March of 2016. Unfortunately during the month of March when Canadian Premiers should have been finalizing the details on a new internal trade agreement the Prime Minister derailed the discussion in attempting to force his national carbon pricing agenda in Vancouver. Canadians now know these discussions ultimately revealed the extent that Provinces will agree to disagree as Premiers have different views on how best to defend respective provincial interests.
Currently no Liberal Minister has internal trade referenced in a mandate letter and the Prime Minister has been silent on the March 2016 deadline passing by with no announced new Agreement on Internal trade. With some estimates suggesting internal trade barriers cost the Canadian economy as much as $50 Billion annually it is critically important to for the Liberal Government to work with our Provincial leaders to reach a new agreement.
A new agreement on Internal Trade will help grow our Canadian economy and will do so without adding billions of new debt. This is a priority that all Canadians can agree on.