British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan are signing an agreement today that will increase cooperation among the three provinces. The “New West Partnership Agreement” is focused on combining efforts to increase trade with Asia. It is an example of provinces working together rather than duplicating efforts, or worse, working at cross purposes.
Unfortunately, the irrational fear of allowing the free movement of goods, labour and investment in Canada hangs over this agreement. This fear, stirred up by vested interests who considered the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) signed by BC and Alberta a few years ago to be a sign of the Apocalypse, has hampered efforts to increase economic efficiency, maximize the mobility rights of Canadians and reduce the amount of tax dollars used to prop up uncompetitive local businesses.
We need to stop the hypocritical thinking that says “my business should be able to compete for sales in province X or country Y, but I don’t like it when a business in province X or country Y tries to sell stuff in my backyard.” Free trade means embracing competition and the benefits it brings. This does not mean that you are not allowed to “buy local.” All it means is that a business from the province next door or a country far away has an equal chance to compete without the government fixing the odds beforehand.
Western Canadians should be proud that we are leaders in the country when it comes to bringing down barriers to internal trade and cooperating with each other. From the Western College of Veterinary Medicine to the new agreement being signed today, the West has a long tradition of interprovincial cooperation. And when it comes to cooperation among our provincial governments, more is better than less.
Of course, not everyone agrees. What do you think?
Posted By: Robert Roach