Media Releases

Interprovincial trade: Politicians need to walk the walk

Montreal, December 5, 2018 – While the Prime Minister of Canada and his provincial counterparts are getting together to discuss the trade barriers that remain within Canada, the MEI invites politicians who are talking the talk to finally also walk the walk on this issue.

“Everyone seems to agree that interprovincial trade barriers should disappear. But despite this consensus, we’re still slow to act,” notes Alexandre Moreau, Public Policy Analyst at the MEI.

During a speech he gave at the One Country, One Market conference held in Ottawa on November 1st, the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, Dominic LeBlanc, emphasized just how much barriers to trade hurt Canadian workers and undermine the country’s economic growth. Mr. LeBlanc suggested that Canada follow its own example from the international stage, where we promote the virtues of free trade.

Among other bureaucratic absurdities, the minister gave the example of a trucking company, present all across Canada, that tries to buy first aid kits for its workers. In all, the company will have to respect the different requirements of eight provinces and territories when it comes to the contents of the kits, in terms of the number of bandages, among other things. Instead of working to gain new clients or increase the productivity of their businesses, entrepreneurs have to waste their time juggling regulations.

“While we’re speaking more and more in Canada of diversifying our exports and developing our markets, in certain sectors it remains easier to do business with another country than with another province. That’s really unbelievable!” says Alexandre Moreau.

This past July, the provinces sent a positive signal by agreeing to increase the quantity of alcohol that an individual can transport from one province to another. Still, much work remains to be done to allow the free movement of goods from coast to coast and put an end to these barriers that cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion every year.

“An overwhelming majority of Canadians think they should be able to buy and transport any legal product from one province to another,” notes Mr. Moreau. “We are one country, after all; we should also be one single economy.

Recall that Gerard Comeau, a New Brunswick resident, was stopped six years ago for having “imported” too much beer and spirits from Quebec. Mr. Comeau contested the fine he received and won his case before a trial judge who struck down a provincial law that dates back to the era of Prohibition, and that is contrary to the founding principles of Confederation.

This past April, however, the Supreme Court missed a historic opportunity to free the Canadian economy from its numerous trade barriers. In its unanimous decision, the highest court in the land decided to maintain the costly status quo.

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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank. Through its publications and media appearances, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing reforms based on market principles and entrepreneurship.


Interview requests: David Descôteaux, MEI. Tel.: 514-273-0969 p.2223 / Cell. 514-919-4450 / email : ddescoteaux@iedm.org

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