TORONTO — The premiers of Ontario and Saskatchewan said Monday they are working together to reduce trade barriers between their provinces.
Speaking at a joint news conference in Toronto, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Saskatchewan counterpart Scott Moe said they have signed a memorandum of understanding on the issue.
Ford said Canada has focused on free trade with the United States at the expense of internal trade, and must reduce interprovincial hurdles to stay economically competitive.
“I hear from business leaders that this is one of the primary obstacles to attracting new investment and jobs to our country. We can’t afford not to act,” Ford said.
“Most of barriers when it comes to free trade between provinces is regulations. We’re going to put a list together, both myself and Premier Moe, of different sectors — let’s use transportation for example — where we can start knocking down some regulations,” he said.
Though they gave few concrete details of their plan, Moe promised swift action. “I think you can look for us to move very quickly on initiatives,” he said.
The pair would not, however, say why they did not send representatives to a meeting on internal trade last week.
“We’re just signing an MOU and we’ll move forward on that MOU,” Ford said.
Ontario’s New Democrats said the two premiers’ absence from the meeting suggests they aren’t interested in working with the rest of Canada on this issue.
“If you’re going to have interprovincial trade agreements they should be negotiated on a pan-Canadian basis,” NDP legislator Peter Tabuns said. “A patchwork is not a good thing for us, it’s not a good thing for the rest of the country.”
Ford and Moe are already joined in the opposition to Ottawa’s carbon pricing plan for provinces that don’t have their own system in place by next year.
Both provinces have launched legal challenges to the federal plan and are intervening in each other’s cases.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press