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  • Budget 2018: The Most Disappointing Budget Ever March 14, 2018
    Premier Pallister’s Trump-esque statement that budget 2018 was going to be the “best budget ever” has fallen a bit flat. Instead of a bold plan to deal with climate change, poverty and our crumbling infrastructure, we are presented with two alarmist scenarios to justify further tax cuts and a lack of decisive action: the recent […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • 2018 Federal Budget Analysis February 14, 2018
    Watch this space for response and analysis of the federal budget from CCPA staff and our Alternative Federal Budget partners. More information will be added as it is available. Commentary and Analysis Some baby steps for dad and big steps forward for women, by Kate McInturff (CCPA) An ambition constrained budget, by David Macdonald (CCPA) Five things […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • CED in Manitoba - The Video January 29, 2018
    Community Economic Development in Manitoba - nudging capitalism out of the way?
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • With regional management BC’s iconic forest industry can benefit British Columbians rather than multinational corporations January 17, 2018
    Forests are one of the iconic symbols of British Columbia, and successive governments and companies operating here have largely focussed on the cheap, commodity lumber business that benefits industry. Former provincial forestry minister Bob Williams, who has been involved with the industry for five decades, proposes regional management of this valuable natural resource to benefit […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Community Economic Development in Manitoba - a new film January 16, 2018
    Cinameteque, Jan 23.  7:00 pm - Free event Film Trailer CCEDNET-MB, CCPA-MB, The Manitoba Research Alliance and Rebel Sky Media presents: The Inclusive Economy:  Stories of Community Economic Development in Manitoba
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Financial Crisis and Interprovincial Trade

In Saturday’s Globe, Gordon Campbell ridiculously presented eliminating inter-provincial barriers as a response to the global financial crisis. Although Marc beat me to the punch in replying, I have a few further thoughts.

Several months ago, TILMA boosters said that removing alleged barriers to labour mobility was particularly pressing given a “tight” labour market. Today, the same people say that removing barriers is particularly pressing given an economic downturn and rising unemployment. These contradictory arguments confirm that TILMA is a solution in search of a problem.

The notion of eliminating inter-provincial barriers as a response to the financial crisis reminds me of a point that J. K. Galbraith made in The Affluent Society: the economic losses caused by microeconomic inefficiencies are very small compared to those caused by macroeconomic problems. Even wildly excessive estimates of supposed inter-provincial barriers suggest that these cost 0.25% of GDP. Even the most conservative estimates of how much the financial crisis is reducing annual GDP relative to normal growth are at least ten times larger. Stimulating the overall economy is far more important than ironing out tiny inefficiencies.

The renewed attack on supposed inter-provincial barriers is especially bizarre because, this past summer, Quebec dismantled its famous restriction on coloured margarine and all Premiers agreed to mutual recognition of occupational credentials as well as financial penalties for AIT disputes.  It’s hard to imagine what “barriers” could remain. The Throne Speech’s tough talk on inter-provincial trade may well just position the federal government to claim credit for what provincial governments were already doing.

I think that there is an opportunity to counterattack on this front. Provincial opposition parties should expose governments that publicly rejected TILMA but are now introducing some of that deal’s worst features through the back door.

For example, during the 2007 provincial election, Dalton McGuinty wrote, “We will not sign an agreement that would lower or would allow for the lowering of environmental, labour, health and safety standards for Ontario workers.” But by agreeing to “mutual recognition of occupational credentials between all provinces and territories,” he is indeed committing to lower Ontario’s standards to permit the minimum standard maintained by any other province or territory.

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