Free trade and freedom of movement by workers between the provinces is the latest major policy announcement from one of six declared candidates for the federal Conservative leadership.
Maxime Bernier says eliminating trade barriers between provinces was one of the goals of the original Fathers of Confederation. “In theory, everyone is in favour of getting rid of interprovincial trade barriers. The current Liberal government is in favour. My colleagues in the leadership race are in favour. But, in practice, nobody is willing to do what it takes to solve the problem.”
Bernier explains the need by pointing to the New Brunswick government’s decision to appeal a court ruling that quashed cross-border booze limits in that province. The leadership hopeful says booze is the issue that gets the most attention, but there are other barriers. “Nurses from Montreal must be able to practice in B.C. A construction worker in Ontario must be able to work in Quebec. That’s the basis of our constitution. That’s why we created the country for having an economic union (sic) and we don’t have an economic union in Canada right now.”
Bernier says if he wins the leadership and becomes Prime Minister he will spearhead changes to increase Canadians’ economic freedoms. He says he will introduce legislation that would create an economic charter of rights. “This will establish the case for Ottawa’s intervention to give back Canadians their freedom to trade–and to work–everywhere in the country.” Bernier says the federal government can’t change provincial laws and regulations but it can help challenge them in court.