Canada's Original Think Tank

Internal Trade

Internal Trade

Internal Trade

Internal Trade

Published on 31 January 2017
Hansard and Statements by Senator Joseph Day

Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):

My question, Mr. Minister, is along the same lines as Senator Black’s in relation to the report of the Banking Committee entitled Tear Down These Walls.

I brought you along another copy, in case yours has gotten lost along the way, because we had not heard from you in some time, other than the announcement that things were going well. We look forward to learning some of the details.

There is one concern that I would like to bring to your attention, and it is in relation to what has transpired in New Brunswick. In 2012, Mr. Gérard Comeau received a fine because he bought some beer and alcohol in Quebec and brought it into the province of New Brunswick. He was stopped by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and fined for that.

The particular section of our Constitution is section 121 that I’m sure you’re quite familiar with. I would like to read to you that particular section because it does provide an understanding of what the Fathers of Confederation were thinking when Canada was formed. It reads:

All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union —

That’s the creation of Canada.

— be admitted free into each of the other provinces.

It is very clear as to what was intended 150 years ago, yet someone who buys some beer in Quebec and comes into New Brunswick is stopped because of provincial laws.

I understand that leave is sought at the Supreme Court of Canada, Mr. Minister. So that doesn’t show that there is a lot of excitement, at least in the province of New Brunswick, to go along with a free trade agreement.

Finally, if you could comment on the issue of services because services are a huge part of our growing Canadian economy and were not contemplated earlier on. Can you at least give us some reassurance that those comments from our report will be reflected in the agreement that you have reached? Thank you, minister.

Mr. Bains: I would like to thank the senator for bringing me a copy of the report. I have no objections to reading it again.

As the senator outlined in his last remarks, of course services would be included. I think that level of detail I can share with this chamber, and I can make it very clear that will be an important part of our overall comprehensive approach when it comes to promoting the flow of goods and services across our borders within Canada.

You specifically talked about the fact that we are now celebrating our one hundred and fiftieth anniversary and this is obviously a very special occasion for Canada. What a unique opportunity we have as we celebrate our anniversary to put forward a comprehensive free trade agreement. I think it sends a powerful signal when we see the rise of protectionism, when we see the conversations of people building walls and looking inward, that we’re bringing down walls, that we’re promoting trade, ideas and the flow of goods and services in a very open manner. That’s really good for innovation, creativity and economic growth.

With respect to the specific point you raised around alcohol, this is an issue that I understand. We as a government have decided not to pursue the matter in the courts. We feel that this is best discussed at the table, and this is where I’ve raised with my provincial and territorial counterparts. We have designed a road map going forward on how to deal with this issue. I would like to assure the senator that this is an issue I understand is very important.

More broadly, I’d like to say that the objective of the Canada free trade agreement is really to put Canada back on the map. When we pursue multilateral or bilateral free trade agreements, it’s important we demonstrate that when those companies want to invest in Canada, we want to see that companies in Canada have the opportunity to grow from coast to coast to coast. That’s one of the objectives in our endeavours. Again, it’s a very ambitious agreement, and I look forward to providing in the near future more details on this free trade agreement with the provinces and territories.