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  • Betting on Bitumen: Alberta's energy policies from Lougheed to Klein June 8, 2017
    The role of government in Alberta, both involvement and funding, has been critical in ensuring that more than narrow corporate interests were served in the development of the province’s bitumen resources.  A new report contrasts the approaches taken by two former premiers during the industry’s early development and rapid expansion periods.  The Lougheed government invested […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Canada-China FTA will leave workers worse off June 2, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is currently consulting Canadians on a possible Canada-China free trade agreement. In CCPA’s submission to this process, CCPA senior researcher Scott Sinclair argues that an FTA based on Canada’s standard template would almost certainly reinforce rather than improve upon Canada’s imbalanced and deleterious trade with China. It can also be expected to […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Faulty assumptions about pipelines and tidewater access May 30, 2017
    The federal and Alberta governments and the oil industry argue that pipelines to tidewater will unlock new markets where Canadian oil can command a better price than in the US, where the majority of Canadian oil is currently exported. Both governments have approved Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project, but a new report finds that […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Weathering the storm: is this the end of CRA’s political activities audits? May 5, 2017
    Yesterday, following a panel’s recommendation to allow charities more freedom to speak out, the federal government decided to suspend the Canada Revenue Agency’s controversial political activities audit program. Indeed this is good news for Canadian charities. Everyone at the CCPA is proud of the role our organization has played in challenging these audits and in […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Unauthorized dams built in BC's northeast for energy companies' fracking May 3, 2017
    A subsidiary of Malaysian state-owned Petronas, the company behind a massive Liquefied Natural Gas plant proposal near Prince Rupert, has built at least 16 large unauthorized dams in northeast BC to trap water used for fracking operations, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has learned. Read the report.
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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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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