The Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Sean Speer and Brian Lee Crowley will take their case for liberating internal trade between the provinces to Parliament Hill.
Speer and Crowley have been invited to appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce on Thursday, March 24, 2016.
The committee is currently examining the government’s efforts to modernize the decades-old deal that was supposed to tear down barriers between the provinces, the Agreement on Internal Trade.
Speer and Crowley applaud the government’s plan to make internal trade a top priority. But they will also warn the committee about the folly of repeating past mistakes.
Decades of attempting to cajole the provinces into voluntarily tearing down the barriers they erected have failed. The fact that goods and labour still face barriers in moving between provinces is evidence of the Agreement on Internal Trade’s failure.
If the new government follows the same strategy it will be no more successful. Instead, they say, Ottawa needs to step in and get tough with the premiers.
Speer and Crowley will urge the federal government to introduce a sweeping statute to ensure that no government rules or policies unnecessarily restrict the free movement of goods, services, labour and capital, and give individual citizens clear legal remedies against such restrictions.
This is the only way to make good on the promise of Confederation in 1867, when the original colonies banded together to form one country that provided freedom of movement for goods and labour.
Speer and Crowley advocate an Act of Parliament to create an Economic Charter of Rights for Canadians that would be faithful to the vision of 1867, while respecting the constitutional division of powers and responsibilities between the provinces and Ottawa.
The Charter would give ordinary citizens, like the the hair dresser who can’t find work in Ontario because his or her training is in Saskatchewan, the power to challenge and defeat these barriers in the courts.
It is the only way to, in the words of the great Liberal Parliamentarian George Brown, to make “a citizen of one, citizen of the whole”.
The Macdonald-Laurier Institute has long been an advocate of tearing down barriers to interprovincial trade and extending economic freedom across the country.
Click here for a review of MLI’s thought leadership on the issue.