Maxime Bernier is only candidate who can bring real free trade to Canada.
OTTAWA – For Maxime Bernier, the new Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) to be signed today in Toronto is a far cry from what Canadians should expect, 150 years after our Constitution outlawed trade barriers between provinces.
“Of course it’s a step in the right direction. Like stopping at STOP signs half the time instead of never, or driving though a village at 70 km/h instead of 100 km/h. It’s still unacceptable and a clear violation of rules. And it still means there will be accidents.”
And we know who the victims will be, declared Mr. Bernier, who announced exactly one year ago that he would seek the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, with “Respecting our Constitution” as one of the key planks in his platform. “The victims will continue to be business people trying to expand their market in other provinces, workers being prevented to work as they move within their own country, and all consumers having to pay more than they should for fewer products.”
A recent Senate report estimated that interprovincial barriers cost Canada’s economy as much as $50 billion to $130 billion each year. The CFTA still contains hundreds of pages of exceptions to the general rule that trade should be freed. It excludes major sectors such as alcohol, products under supply management, energy, forestry, financial services and a host of others.
“It’s frankly pathetic that provinces were under pressure to liberalize some areas because the recent signing of a free trade agreement with Europe will make it easier for European companies to do business here than for Canadian companies,” said Bernier. “150 years after Confederation, it’s a shame that we still don’t have real free trade within Canada.”
If he is elected leader and prime minister, the Beauce MP has proposed to establish an Economic Freedom Commission with the power to investigate breaches of article 121 of the Constitution by the provinces, to recommend arbitration, to help citizens and businesses prosecute their case, or to initiate legal action on its own.
“The problem has not been solved with this agreement. We shouldn’t be following constitutional rules only half of the time. Ottawa’s has a duty to apply the rules for internal commerce and I will take the necessary measures to apply them as prime minister,” concluded Mr. Bernier.