Ontario Quebec Trade Agreement

Provincial governments say their goal is to ensure that Ontario and Quebec businesses have access to Ontario and Quebec public procurement at least as favourable as what was granted to European companies in the free trade agreement to be ratified with Europe. Currently, CETA could be submitted to the European Parliament for ratification in late 2016 or early 2017. The Trudeau government supports CETA and the Prime Minister has ordered his Trade Minister, Chrystia Freeland, to “implement” the agreement. According to David DescĂ©teaux, an economist at the MEI and author of the paper, the agreement between Ontario and Quebec is “a courageous approach to the protectionist reflex that often comes to the fore in times of economic hardship.” He explains that the agreement between Ontario and Quebec aims to facilitate trade between the two provinces, promote labour mobility, strengthen economic cooperation and work towards better harmonization of legislation. Once trade barriers are removed, businesses become more productive and innovative as a result of competition and lower business costs. The author points out that, despite extensive integration, a number of irritations still stand in the way of the full economic fluidity between the two provinces. In addition, two recent OECD and IMF studies call on Canada to remove barriers to inter-provincial trade in order to improve the country`s productivity and the perception of foreign investors. Unfortunately, there are still many exceptions to the Agreement between Ontario and Quebec. DescĂ©teaux says an agreement based on the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between British Columbia and Alberta would have been much more effective. The Harper government and provincial governments made these commitments despite widespread opposition to the agreement, particularly from more than 85 municipalities that passed resolutions expressing concerns about the agreement or calling for them to be excluded from its provisions.

In November 2013, a poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians found that 77 per cent of Canadians oppose a ban on local buys in CETA. The survey found that even among those who “strongly support” the idea of free trade with Europe, 63 per cent believe that local governments should continue to have the right to prioritize Canadian or local procurement offers. In May 2015, the Ontario government wrote in a press release: “Last fall, the premiers of Ontario and Quebec signed an intention to revive and strengthen trade relations between the two provinces.