International Trade and Investment, The Economy, What's New

B.C.’s pipeline demands set a dangerous precedent

Read it in the Globe and Mail here.

Oh, the irony. Just as we start celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday as a nation, a dangerous precedent threatens, for the future, a hallmark of this country’s past success.

Almost five years ago, British Columbia announced five “conditions” for its “approval” of the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline expansion. The last of the five conditions – that there be a “fair share of benefits” for British Columbians – has now been met, with Kinder Morgan agreeing to pay $500-million to $1-billion over 20 years to the B.C. government. Environmental concerns will be addressed by the 194 specific national and provincial conditions for the project, plus the federal commitment to a $1.5-billion ocean-protection plan. But the fifth condition was all about money and local politics.

The problem? We don’t hold each other up for ransom in this country. At least, we haven’t for 150 years.

Canada is an unlikely success story. Our vast geography and unique mix of backgrounds led to the creation of a unique, decentralized federation. After 150 years of this grand experiment, we have a lot to be proud of. But it has only worked because people of courage were willing to compromise and invest – both politically and financially – for the greater good. They created our Constitution, which unites us politically.

Yet, we seem to be losing our understanding of Canadian history and of the Constitution. Either that, or maybe just the political courage needed to uphold it. Rather than nation-building, this is nation-dividing.

It is hard to blame British Columbia for trying to exact as much as possible for itself. The blame really lies with those, including the federal government, who five years ago said nothing when these conditions were first proposed. By their silence, they seemed to accept the idea that, somehow, British Columbia had the right to say no.

But, in Canadian law, it did not. Neither provincial governments nor municipalities have, under the Constitution, the power to block cross-border pipelines.

Of course, they have the right to raise local concerns – and other provinces, as well as the federal government, need to listen, understand and sometimes compromise. Collectively, we need to ensure best practices in terms of safety and the environment, including prevention, mitigation and the like. But charging a price to ensure a “local” economic benefit flies in the face of the concept of national undertakings, and is a dangerous precedent.

Imagine Ontario refusing to allow railway track to be laid across it, because transporting grain from the Prairies to Montreal or St. John for export was of “no benefit” to Ontario. Imagine if more rail capacity is needed to ship wheat and potash from Saskatchewan, and Alberta decides to charge a percentage of the price just to allow these products to pass through?

The drafters of the Constitution understood the local pressures faced by politicians, the temptation to succumb to them and the need to protect the national interest. Section 92 sets out all of the provincial powers, but specifically reserves to the federal Parliament key jurisdiction over shipping lines, railways, canals, telegraphs and other works or undertakings (including pipelines) that connect one province with any other province, or beyond.

Barack Obama, worrying about the direction the United States seems to be taking, said this in his farewell speech: “Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make … [and] whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.”

We in Canada may be less concerned with our freedom, but we should be concerned about how we function as a country. Canada is no fragile thing, but the success of our 150-year journey has been in large part due to how our Constitution functions. Just as our neighbours to the south must work to uphold their Constitution, we too must uphold ours.

International Trade and Investment, The Economy, What's New

Financial Post: Foreign investors need clarity

Foreign direct investment is like a pipeline of energy (pun intended) into the Canadian economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, FDI benefits small open economies like Canada by allowing owners of capital to diversify their lending and investment, thereby reducing their risks and costs of finance. In the shorter run, it generates tax revenues and…</style>//


Blog, International Trade and Investment, The Economy, What's New

End The Foot Dragging and Sign The Trade Deal with Europe

View online at the Globe and Mail here:

CETA – Partnership for Resource Trade

September, 2014

Thankfully, international trade is an area where, at least in more recent times, political partisanship takes a back seat. (Mostly.)

There will always be naysayers, but the overwhelming evidence points to trade being better, economically and socially, for both exporters and importers. In almost every case (acknowledging certain continuing challenges with developing countries), the tide of rising prosperity from international commerce, done responsibly, lifts all boats.

For Canada, a major trading nation which, in relative terms, depends far more on trade than many others, the more access we have to other markets the better. Although global multilateral trade negotiations have faltered, bilateral and regional arrangements that reduce tariffs and other barriers have been increasing, simply because it makes economic sense to do so. The recent agreement on the final text of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is very welcome news – for both Canada and Europe.

Canada is a resource-rich country. We produce high quality food, fish, wood products, minerals, energy — and an extraordinary variety of related products and services – that the rest of the world wants. Our various resource sectors provide high-value-added jobs in diverse areas such as agri-science, technical innovation, research and development, engineering and design. Canadians continue to create and build more efficient and more environmentally sustainable growing, extracting, processing and manufacturing methods, which in turn make our products and services more attractive to the world.

Canadians in all of these sectors – the business people, the workers, the growers, as well as the millions of Canadian consumers who will benefit from more access to better-priced European goods – all welcome CETA and look forward to its implementation.

CETA will open the massive European market to more Canadian goods and services. With 500 million people and $17 trillion GDP, the European Union is the world’s largest integrated economy area, and Canada’s second-largest trading partner. CETA also represents a new generation of treaties, and makes the most of increasing globalization. As its name suggests, it is ambitiously comprehensive in addressing far more than just goods, but services as well, and not just tariffs, but investment and government procurement. CETA means opportunities for Canadian exporters, service providers, importers and consumers, and is forecast to deliver a 20% boost in bilateral trade, the equivalent of creating almost 80,000 jobs. These new trade opportunities will encourage greater diversification of our economy and give stronger incentives to the development of our businesses, products and services.

It also moves both Canada and the countries of the European Union to enhance the human and social dimensions of our relationship, particularly in regard to the environment, research, innovation and culture.

In a world of increasingly interdependent economies, CETA positions Canada well. Strategically, the fact that the Europeans chose to proceed with Canada as a prelude to the US/EU negotiations speaks to how Canada can position itself as a bridge in the important transatlantic relationship between our two continents. And adding CETA to NAFTA – the biggest and richest consumer market in the world with Europe together with the 450 million people of the NAFTA area – puts Canada right in the middle of the biggest trade zone in the world.

The rising economic and political power of emerging and increasingly aggressive economies also creates a much bigger geopolitical challenge. And here, the stakes are very high. What is at play? Particularly with the absence of comprehensive multilateral progress, which countries, or regional blocks, will set the rules of trade? Canada, the EU and the US together comprise 45% of the world’s GDP and a third of its trade. Finalizing CETA is a major step in substantially strengthening our hand in protecting our vital economic interests.

Canada cannot wait on the sidelines, but must be a full participant, and CETA is an excellent step forward.

The CETA trade deal is overwhelmingly a good thing for Canada and Canadians, and we encourage those now tasked with finalizing the details and getting it ratified to do so as quickly as possible.

Martha Hall Findlay, an MP from 2008 to 2011, is an executive fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and chairs the Advisory Council of the Partnership for Resource Trade.

 Jean Charest, Partner at McCarthy Tétrault and former Premier of Québec, chairs the Partnership’s Steering Committee.


View online at Le Devoir here:


AECG – Partenariat pour le commerce des ressources

Septembre 2014

Heureusement, le commerce international est un domaine où, ces derniers temps du moins, la majorité des activités politiques partisanes ont été reléguées au second plan.

Il y aura toujours des récalcitrants, mais une preuve abondante démontre que le commerce est meilleur, sur les plans économique et social, pour les exportateurs et les importateurs. Dans presque tous les cas (compte tenu de certains défis permanents que posent les pays en développement), la marée montante de la prospérité issue du commerce international, si celui-ci est fait de manière responsable, soulève tous les bateaux.

Plus le Canada, nation commerçante d’envergure qui, en termes relatifs, dépend davantage du commerce que bon nombre d’autres pays, a accès à des marchés variés, mieux c’est. Bien que des négociations commerciales multilatérales mondiales aient achoppé, force est de constater que les accords régionaux et bilatéraux ayant pour objet la réduction de tarifs et la suppression d’autres barrières sont à la hausse parce qu’ils sont tout simplement réalistes sur le plan économique. L’entente récente sur le libellé définitif de l’Accord économique et commercial global entre le Canada et l’Union européenne (l’« AECG ») est une excellente nouvelle, tant pour le Canada que l’Europe.

Le Canada est un pays riche en ressources. Nous produisons des aliments, du poisson, des produits du bois, des minéraux et de l’énergie de première qualité de même qu’une vaste gamme de produits et services connexes que veut le reste du monde. Nos divers secteurs des ressources fournissent des emplois de grande qualité dans divers domaines, notamment dans les secteurs agro-scientifique, de l’innovation technique, de la recherche et du développement, du génie et de la conception. Les Canadiens continuent d’inventer et d’élaborer des méthodes de culture, d’extraction, de traitement et de fabrication plus efficaces et durables sur le plan environnemental, de sorte que nos produits et services sont particulièrement attrayants sur le marché mondial.

Les Canadiens de tous ces secteurs, qu’il s’agisse de gens d’affaires, de travailleurs, de producteurs ou des millions de consommateurs canadiens qui bénéficieront d’un accès accru à des biens européens à meilleur prix, se réjouissent de l’AECG et de sa mise en œuvre prochaine.

L’AECG permettra à un nombre croissant de biens et de services canadiens de percer l’immense marché européen. L’Union européenne, dotée d’une population de 500 millions d’habitants et d’un produit intérieur brut (« PIB ») de 17 billions de dollars, est la plus grande économie intégrée du monde ainsi que le deuxième partenaire commercial en importance du Canada. Qui plus est, l’AECG fait partie d’une nouvelle génération de traités qui tirent parti de la mondialisation croissante. Comme son nom l’indique, cet accord de très grande envergure vise plus que des biens et des tarifs. En effet, il s’applique aussi à des services, des placements et des marchés publics. L’AECG est synonyme de possibilités d’affaires pour les exportateurs, les fournisseurs de services, les importateurs et les consommateurs canadiens et devrait entraîner une augmentation de 20 % du commerce bilatéral, ce qui correspond à la création de quelque 80 000 emplois. Ces nouvelles occasions d’affaires donneront lieu à une plus grande diversification de notre économie de même qu’à de meilleurs incitatifs en vue du développement de nos entreprises, produits et services.

En outre, l’accord incite le Canada et les pays membres de l’Union européenne à mettre en valeur les dimensions humaines et sociales de notre relation, particulièrement à la lumière de l’environnement, de la recherche, de l’innovation et de la culture.

Dans un monde où les économies sont de plus en plus interdépendantes, l’AECG permet au Canada de renforcer sa position. D’un point de vue stratégique, le fait que l’Union européenne ait choisi de collaborer avec le Canada avant d’entamer ses négociations avec les États-Unis montre comment notre pays peut se positionner pour faire le pont dans la relation transatlantique cruciale entre les deux continents. Le Canada se trouve au milieu de la plus importante zone commerciale du monde grâce à l’AECG et à l’ALENA, accords qui visent respectivement le marché de consommation le plus grand et le plus riche de la planète ainsi que les 450 millions d’habitants nord-américains.

Le pouvoir économique et politique grandissant d’économies émergentes de plus en plus dynamiques pose aussi un défi géopolitique d’un tout autre ordre où les enjeux sont fort élevés. Que sont ces enjeux? Plus particulièrement, en l’absence de progrès multilatéraux substantiels, quels pays, ou blocs régionaux, établiront les règles commerciales? Ensemble, le Canada, l’UE et les É.-U. représentent 45 % du PIB et le tiers du commerce à l’échelle planétaire. L’achèvement de l’AECG constitue une étape majeure nous permettant de renforcer considérablement notre position pour protéger nos intérêts économiques vitaux.

Le Canada ne peut se permettre d’attendre dans les coulisses. Il se doit de participer pleinement et l’AECG lui donne l’occasion rêvée de le faire.

L’AECG représente une occasion en or pour le Canada et les Canadiens, et nous encourageons les personnes qui sont maintenant chargées d’arrêter définitivement l’accord et de le faire ratifier d’agir ainsi dans les meilleurs délais.

Martha Hall Findlay, députée entre 2008 et 2011 et membre exécutif de l’École de politique publique de lUniversité de Calgary, préside le Conseil consultatif du Partenariat pour le commerce des ressources.

 Jean Charest, associé chez McCarthy Tétrault et ancien premier ministre du Québec, préside le Comité directeur du Partenariat pour le commerce des ressources.