R v Comeau and Interprovincial Free Trade: Canadian Opinion Survey
The Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) commissioned Ipsos to poll Canadians on their opinions regarding interprovincial free trade.
Media release: Poll: Canadians are unequivocal, want trade barriers eliminated
Montreal, March 26, 2019 – Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to maintain the status quo in the Comeau case, Canadians continue to strongly support the idea of eliminating obstacles to trade between the provinces, as shown in an Ipsos poll released today.
Nearly three in four Canadians (73%) disagree with the Supreme Court’s verdict, handed down in April 2018, which maintained trade barriers between the provinces.
The poll, carried out on behalf of the MEI, shows that a majority of people agree that Canadians should be allowed to:
- Bring any legally purchased product from one province to another (87%)
- Order any legal product from anywhere in the country (87%)
- Order wine directly from a winery in another province (86%)
- Bring any amount of beer or wine from one province to another (75%)
Nearly nine in ten Canadians (87%) also think there should be free trade between the provinces “because we are one country.”
“Even though the Court decided to maintain the costly status quo, Canadians clearly understand that these rules are outdated and paternalistic, and that they come at a high price,” points out Patrick Déry, Senior Public Policy Analyst at the MEI.
It is nonetheless encouraging to note that certain provinces, including Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia, have already announced that they are going to reduce the obstacles to internal trade, which cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion each year.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure the free circulation of goods from coast to coast,” adds Howard Anglin, President of the Canadian Constitution Foundation. “It’s important to remember that it is sometimes easier to do business with another country than with another province. It’s really unbelievable!”
“Everyone agrees that trade barriers have to disappear. What are our politicians waiting for to walk the walk? They’re slow to act, but the majority of Canadians want free trade. Greater liberalization of trade would benefit Canadian consumers and businesses alike,” concludes Alex Whalen, Vice President of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.
Gerard Comeau, a New Brunswick resident, was stopped in 2012 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. The Supreme Court missed a historic opportunity to free the Canadian economy from its numerous trade barriers by deciding, unanimously, to maintain the 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.
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