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The Progressive Economics Forum

The Globe on TILMA

Ten days ago, The Globe and Mail’s online edition included an excellent op-ed by Murray Dobbin debunking the notion that supposed inter-provincial trade barriers necessitate TILMA. Unfortunately, The Globe followed it with an editorial endorsing TILMA in Friday’s print edition:

How to bulldoze a wall

The Globe And Mail

Friday, January 18, 2008

Page: A14

The provinces do not have to rely solely on federal action to shield Canada from the worst of the Americans’ deepening economic woes. Premiers have only to look in their own backyards, where barriers to interprovincial trade stubbornly persist despite decades of wishy-washy promises to curb them. Those barriers have shaved at least $3-billion a year from the gross domestic product – one-quarter of 1 per cent of the value of the entire economy. That’s a huge penalty to pay for a host of petty protections.

Interprovincial hurdles are so extensive that, to the amazement of Ottawa’s new competition policy review panel, the federal government does not even have an inventory. . . .

The difficulty that TILMA supporters have had in producing a list of alleged interprovincial barriers surely suggests a shortage of concrete examples. However, The Globe strangely tries to cast the nonexistence of such a list as evidence that many barriers must exist.

In the absence of a list, one wonders how anyone could have calculated that the unidentified barriers cost “at least $3-billion a year”. TILMA supporters used to claim that the deal would add $4.8 billion to BC’s economy by citing a thoroughly discredited Conference Board study. The new strategy is apparently to keep repeating that removing all barriers would add $3 billion to Canada’s economy without specifically citing any study.

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