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  • Ontario's middle and working class families are losing ground August 15, 2017
    Ontario is becoming more polarized as middle and working class families see their share of the income pie shrinking while upper middle and rich families take home even more. New research from CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block reveals a staggering divide between two labour markets in the province: the top half of families continue to pile […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Join us in October for the CCPA-BC fundraising gala, featuring Senator Murray Sinclair August 14, 2017
    We are incredibly honoured to announce that Senator Murray Sinclair will address our 2017 Annual Gala as keynote speaker, on Thursday, October 19 in Vancouver. Tickets are now on sale. Will you join us? Senator Sinclair has served as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba, […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • How to make NAFTA sustainable, equitable July 19, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is consulting Canadians on their priorities for, and concerns about, the planned renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood point out how NAFTA has failed to live up to its promise with respect to job and productivity […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • What’s next for BC? July 4, 2017
    Five weeks ago the CCPA-BC began a letter to our supporters with this statement: “What an interesting and exciting moment in BC politics! For a bunch of policy nerds like us at the CCPA, it doesn’t get much better than this.” At the time, we were writing about the just-announced agreement between the BC NDP […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Could skyrocketing private sector debt spell economic crisis? June 21, 2017
    Our latest report finds that Canada is racking up private sector debt faster than any other advanced economy in the world, putting the country at risk of serious economic consequences. The report, Addicted to Debt, reveals that Canada has added $1 trillion in private sector debt over the past five years, with the corporate sector […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

Barrie McKenna’s Three Strikes on Internal Trade

I appreciate a compelling headline, but “The Walls that Divide Us” in today’s Globe and Mail is way over the top. For building the myth of “internal trade barriers,” Barrie McKenna’s column should have been entitled, “Another Brick in the Wall.” Three claims are especially questionable.

First, “A recent back-of-the-envelope calculation by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute puts the tally of internal trade barriers at 0.5 per cent of GDP, or $8-billion a year.” (The online edition even reiterated this assertion as a secondary headline.)

In fact, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute provided no calculation, back-of-the-envelope or otherwise. It simply picked 0.5% of GDP out of the air. But I guess since The Toronto Sun and National Post had already repeated this figure, it was The Globe and Mail’s turn.

Second, “Alberta insists that only provincially certified welders assemble components used in the oil sands and other projects.” I am no expert on welding certification in Alberta, but the province generally recognizes inter-provincial Red Seal standards for the skilled trades. The Alberta regulatory authority’s website makes it seem pretty straightforward for welders to transfer in from other provinces.

Third, “Carole Presseault, vice-president of government and regulatory affairs for the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, argues that U.S. accountants face fewer restrictions working in Ontario than accountants from elsewhere in Canada. . . . Ontario deems that Certified Public Accountants and Certified Management Accountants from the rest of Canada aren’t fit to work in the province.”

It is true that Ontario requires that public accounting be performed by Chartered Accountants, while other provinces permit other classes of accountants to do this work. So, an American Chartered Accountant may be better placed than a Canadian Certified Management Accountant to practice public accounting in Ontario.

However, Ontario is not discriminating against accountants because they are from other provinces, but rather preferring one type of accountant over other types of accountants. McKenna’s column sheds no light on whether that preference is justified. In any case, it is hardly an “internal trade barrier.”

UPDATE (September 17): I missed it at the time, but The Jurist also posted a great response to McKenna’s column.

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