Step-by-step change can be a good thing. In Canada, at the moment, there are signs of progress toward both freer interprovincial trade and a common securities regulator (the word “national” must not uttered in this context).
Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan, in particular, is contributing in both these policy areas. With his colleagues Christy Clark of British Columbia and Dave Hancock of Alberta in a regional grouping known as the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, he is calling for a major updating of the Agreement on Internal Trade, which he describes as “pretty anemic.” He’s right. It’s now 20 years old. And sufficiently anemic that Canada’s recent trade agreement with the European Union raises the prospect, in some sectors, of greater freedom of movement of some goods and services between the EU and Canada, than between Canadian provinces.
Mr. Wall and his Western colleagues want all the premiers to commit themselves to modernizing the AIT, and liberating trade within Canada, when the Council of the Federation meets next month in Charlottetown.
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have agreed to take part in the Co-operative Capital Markets Regulator project, to which Ontario and British Columbia have already adhered. Quebec and Alberta are still resisting – but 10 Canadian securities commissions (and counting, downwards) are better than 13. Canada should be one free market, with one securities regulator. This week’s steps are small, but at least they’re in the right direction.