The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Ontario reluctant to remove some barriers to interprovincial trade; open to talks

  • Print

TORONTO - Ontario's governing Liberals say they're open to removing barriers to interprovincial trade, but suggest they're reluctant to lift some restrictions that give Ontario companies an advantage.

"We have a number of sectors within the economy that are protected, and the strength of those sectors exist because of some of the processes we put in place," Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Thursday after a speech to the Empire Club of Canada.

"We don't want to jeopardize the livelihood of Ontario companies as well. So we've got to make certain that we're working fairly for all concerned."

There are restrictions in Ontario that make it more difficult for companies outside the province to bid on infrastructure projects, for example, which are getting a big funding boost from the Liberals over the next few years.

Ontario consumers of wine and spirits must also buy their booze through the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, instead of having it shipped directly from a producer outside the province. The LCBO has a private ordering business for products they don't carry.

Residents can personally bring back wine, beer and spirits that they've purchased in other provinces or territories, but quantities are restricted.

Sousa's comments come after the leaders of three western provinces called for the removal of trade barriers to reduce the cost of doing business and help provincial economies grow.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Alberta Premier Dave Hancock and B.C. Premier Christy Clark sent a letter to other premiers on Wednesday saying it's time for a more modern approach.

Wall argues that it's easier for a company in the United States to bid on government procurement in Canada than it is for some Canadian companies to bid on projects in their own country.

The current Agreement on Internal Trade, which came into effect in 1995, allows "anti-free trade behaviour which puts us on a slippery slope to protectionism," their letter said.

Wall says the old agreement takes the approach that every sector of the economy is protected unless an exception is added in. A new Canada free-trade zone would say that everything is subject to free trade between the provinces unless exceptions are negotiated.

The three premiers say in the letter that they want to see a commitment for change when all the premiers meet in Charlottetown in August.

Ontario Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid said the province is "very eager" to talk about freer trade between provinces and territories, but every jurisdiction has their priorities and sectors important to their economies.

"It's far too premature to start picking individual sectors to determine what may or may not be involved in that discussion," he said.

"We haven't as provinces determined yet what's on the table entirely. That's something that we need to gain consensus, I think, across the country."

With the possible implementation of a trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, the provinces and territories must first make sure that Canadian companies aren't at a disadvantage in competing with European businesses, Duguid said.

The cash-strapped province plans to spend $130 billion on infrastructure projects over the next decade to help boost Ontario's economy, a key plank in the big spending budget they're re-introducing on Monday.

But the re-elected Liberals insist they can also eliminate a $12.5-billion deficit in 2017-18.

Moody's debt-rating agency changed its outlook on Ontario's debt rating from stable to negative last week, citing concerns about the government's ability to do what it takes to balance the books in three years.

Sousa said he understands those concerns and shares them.

"I'm the one that's also suggesting that we can't put our heads in the sand, that we've got to take corrective measures," he said. "This budget speaks to those measures."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Can Steeves or Bowman catch Wasylycia-Leis?

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Weather standup. Sundog. Refraction of light through ice crystals which caused both the sun dog and and fog along McPhillips Road early Wednesday morning. 071205.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new school-zone speed limit?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google