Ottawa is planning to release a new internal trade deal negotiated with the provinces on Friday afternoon

OTTAWA, April 7, 2017 – A new internal trade agreement between the provinces is on the way. Will it be any more effective than its toothless predecessors at liberalizing trade across provincial boundaries?

If history is any guide, the answer is a clear no.

Brian Lee Crowley, the Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, will be available to comment once the new agreement is released to the public at around 1 p.m. on Friday, April 7.

Crowley is a vocal critic of the new agreement’s predecessor, the largely ineffective Agreement on Internal Trade. That deal, since its inception, has failed miserably to eliminate the trade borders between the provinces.

The problem? The provinces – the entities that have a direct interest in erecting barriers to the free movement of trained workers, of energy or of goods such as liquor – negotiated that agreement themselves. That puts the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Crowley is a long-time advocate of doing away with the notion of an agreement between the provinces and the federal government on internal trade.

“If the premiers were going to tear down the barriers to trade within Canada, they would have done it long ago”, says Crowley. “The provinces have had their chance”.

Instead he argues that Ottawa has both the power and the duty to strike down the economic barriers that separate Canadians. Indeed that was one of the chief purposes for which the federal government was created 150 years ago. The best way to do this, Crowley argues, is for Ottawa to create a Charter of Economic Rights.

This would force any jurisdiction that offended Canadians’ right to buy or sell their goods and services and to exercise their skills or professions in any part of the country to be called to account under the law – rather than answering to provinces who have no incentive to reduce barriers they themselves erected for their own benefit.


Brian Lee Crowley is the Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is the only non-partisan, independent national public policy think tank in Ottawa focusing on the full range of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

For more information, please contact Mark Brownlee, communications manager, at 613-482-8327 x105 or email at

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