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Free Trade Begins at Home, Except in Canada

July 1, 1989 -

Ironically, as trade barriers among nations come down, such barriers between Canadian provinces are flourishing. That was the substance of a complaint contained in remarks by Monte Kwinter, Ontario's Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, at a recent meeting of the Canadian Exporters' Association in Toronto.

Kwinter described the anomaly that "the Americans are going to have better access to our markets than Canadians are going to have to other provinces." He said that Ontario is the only province pushing for the dismantling of inter-provincial trade barriers. Each province "is trying to protect its own turf....but I think we have to come to terms with the fact that as we liberalize trade worldwide, surely we have to do the same thing provincially."

The minister conceded that Ontario was speaking from a position of strength, whereas other provinces fear a free trade arrangement may put them at a disadvantage. He nevertheless regretted that despite Ontario's prodding, little progress has been made by a committee of provincial and federal ministers established to find ways of lowering interprovincial barriers. These barriers include restrictions on the sale of beer and wine, on outside suppliers to local governments, building supplies and local product standards that discriminate against out-of-province goods. (The Financial Post, June 6, 1989)