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Free trade a key to Canadian prosperity

TORONTO, Ont. -- In a speech delivered at Torontos Empire Club, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach urged Canada to remove...


TORONTO, Ont. — In a speech delivered at Torontos Empire Club, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach urged Canada to remove internal trade barriers within the country.

Stelmach spoke to the crowd amidst an Ontario provincial election, but his message had little to do with individual provinces and focused on the energy sector, the environment and free trade within Canada.

Internal barriers reduce our competitiveness, and pick the pockets of ordinary Canadians, said Stelmach. They are a holdover from the 19th century, and have no place in the 21st.

Stelmach insisted Alberta’s positive contribution to national prosperity, and its role in building a strong, united Canada is critical to the future of the country; and provincial governments need to stop talking about internal free trade, and start implementing it.

Stelmach pointed to Albertas trade agreement with B.C. as a roadmap for removing internal barriers. Alberta entered into a landmark agreement with its neighbouring province the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) to remove barriers between the provinces.

The agreement creates the second-largest economic market in Canada, stated Stelmach. It will build on the prosperity in both provinces by giving businesses and workers seamless access to a larger range of opportunities. Frankly, TILMA should be a template for free trade within Canada.

The roadblocks brought down through TILMA effect transportation, energy, labour mobility, business registration and government procurement.

In each sector the agreement aims to streamline business registration and reporting requirements so that businesses registered in one province are automatically recognized in the other; enhance labour mobility by recognizing occupational certifications of workers in both provinces; provide open and non-discriminatory access to government procurement; and create a clear, comprehensive and enforceable dispute avoidance and dispute resolution mechanism.

— with files from the Globe and Mail


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