Ever wonder why some Canadian small businesses have a harder time selling their goods in the next province than they do in Europe? That's because we Canadians put a lot of effort in crafting trade deals with countries around the world -- which is a very good thing. But we fail to do the same within our borders.
Prime Minister Harper finally has his very own tombstone-ready one-liner, too: "he got us free trade with the Europeans." That seems to be the consensus bouncing around the Canadian punditocracy at the moment, at least. Everyone agrees this trade deal rules. An estimated 80,000 new jobs, an annual $12 billion boost to GDP, cheaper vino from Italy, yadda yadda. But perhaps there's another story here, too.
Free trade within Canada remains an illusion. In its report, "Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness", the Canadian Chamber of Commerce estimates that obstacles to internal trade cost the economy at least $14-billion a year. Right on cue, this report was ignored, joining a long and distinguished list of excellent studies that gather dust.
Canada remembers a milestone this week -- the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Former Mulroney government officials and the business community that supported the first-of-its-kind project are running predictable victory laps in commentaries this week. Well, I'm sorry to crash this little party but there is something seriously wrong with this picture.