TILMA: A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper would force a deal on provinces and territories by 2010
The Conservative Party of Canada 2008 election platform released Oct. 7, 2008, shows that a re-elected Harper government intends to ramp up its fight with provinces and, if necessary, force them to bend to its will on internal trade by 2010.
Under the title Breaking Down Trade Barriers within Canada page 16 of the Conservative platform states:
“A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will work to eliminate barriers that restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility between provinces and territories by 2010. In 2007, the government announced that it was prepared to use the federal trade and commerce power to strengthen the Canadian economic union. Since that time, we have seen progress among the provinces and territories in strengthening the existing Agreement on Internal Trade. We hope to see further progress, but are prepared to intervene by exercising federal authority if barriers to trade, investment and mobility remain by 2010.”
As usual no detailed list of these so-called barriers is provided.
The reference to the 2007 government announcement is the Speech from the Throne that was delivered on Oct. 16, 2007. On the matter of bullying the provinces to fall in line the Harper government said:
“Our Government will also pursue the federal government’s rightful leadership in strengthening
The Budget 2007 delivered by Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on Mar. 19, 2007, contains a number of seemingly benign references to TILMA but on closer inspection reveals a government determined to put private profits permanently ahead of the public interest.
Chapter 5 of Budget 2007 states:
“Budget 2007 takes action on creating an Entrepreneurial Advantage in
“A more competitive domestic market will better prepare Canadian businesses for further success in the global economy. Artificial barriers to labour mobility can make it difficult for firms to find the skilled labour they need. Other impediments to internal trade can raise business costs and reduce competition. Reducing internal trade barriers will benefit us all through greater product and service choice, lower prices and higher economic growth.
“All governments within
“...developing a more comprehensive trade and investment relationship with our closest trading partner, the United States, is key to the success of Canadian business. For more than 60 years, we have been able to rely on our trade relationship with the world's largest, most dynamic economy. We continue to benefit from this relationship, yet we must recognize that new players are challenging us in our traditional market. The Global Commerce Strategy will address this challenge by reinforcing our
“At the heart of the Government's strategy is the adoption of a new Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation that will come into effect on April 1, 2007...To meet the Government's Advantage Canada commitment to a new modern approach to regulation and improved efficiency and effectiveness, Budget 2007 provides $9 million over two years to implement this initiative.”
Prior to that, on November 23, 2006, Flaherty released “a long-term, national economic plan” called Advantage Canada: Building a Strong Economy for Canadians. Page 39 of the plan states:
“All governments within
The plan made the following policy commitment:
“The Government intends to foster a stronger Canadian economic union by continuing to engage with the provinces and territories to enhance internal trade and labour mobility and create a common securities regulator, and by encouraging the provinces to move ahead with the harmonization of sales taxes with the GST.”
The Conservative Party’s 2006 election platform was subtler than its 2004 platform stating that “A Conservative government will:
“Support the creation of practical intergovernmental mechanisms to facilitate provincial involvement in areas of federal jurisdiction where provincial jurisdiction is affected, and enshrine these practices in a Charter of Open Federalism. We will work with the provinces in areas such as culture, environment, and trade, within the context of the Constitution. Specifically, we will:
“Support the important contribution the Council of the Federation is making to strengthening intergovernmental and interprovincial cooperation, expanding the economic and social union in
The Conservative Party of Canada 2004 election platform was forthright and in the voters faces stating:
“A Conservative government will renegotiate the Agreement on Internal Trade to end provincial exclusions, create a prompt and binding dispute settlement process, and allow greater mobility for workers. If voluntary agreement cannot be achieved, we will use the Constitution to ensure that trade among the provinces is at least as free as trade with the
Make no mistake a government led by Stephen Harper will eventually force its will onto provinces. Should Harper win look for Saskatchewan Party Premier Brad Wall to move quickly on negotiating a TILMA-like deal with