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Politics Western premiers say it’s time to scrap ‘dumb’ trade rules

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, left, and Alberta Premier Dave Hancock head from the opening session at the annual Council of the Federation meeting in Charlottetown on Thursday, August 28, 2014.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The premiers of Canada's three western provinces announced Thursday they're going to review the remaining trade barriers between them as part of their New West Partnership.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said while the deal between his province, Alberta and British Columbia has made progress on easing the movement of goods and services across borders, more work can be done.

Wall said he was taken aback after discovering that a manufacturer of first aid kits would have to satisfy 10 different sets of regulations in order to operate throughout Canada.

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"This seems dumb," Wall said. "At the heart of improving trade issues is trying to remove dumb from the economy."

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the New West Partnership should serve as an example to other provinces looking for ways to bring down trade barriers.

"This is the most successful free trade bloc in Canada," Clark said. "Canada doesn't have a great track record of being free-traders between provinces. ... We are trying to lead by example."

The premiers are meeting in Charlottetown where they are also expected to discuss health care, pensions and the so-called fiscal imbalance with Ottawa. The meeting wraps up Friday.

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