Federal and provincial governments have unveiled the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, designed to lower internal trading barriers and add $25 billion per year to the national economy.
Unfortunately, the new arrangement wildly misses the mark. While the deal theoretically improves trade by widening the scope of free exchange, the hundreds of exemptions are unnecessary and complicating. Most of the agreement text is devoted to protectionism, not free trade. Whole industries, such as alcohol, are sorely left out from liberalization.
The federal government needs to lead: instead of brokering deals, Ottawa should use its constitutional power to strike down any and all barriers to trade between provinces.