Free Societies

Montreal Economic Institute shows the mistake of intra-country trade barriers

MEI trade header

The 2017 Canadian Free Trade Agreement helped break down barriers to trade within the country, but Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba held on to some exceptions to the trade deal. Atlas Network partner Montreal Economic Institute pursued an educational campaign to show that these policies were harmful to the Canadian economy and everyday people. Through these efforts, they brought about policy changes that promise to benefit millions of people.

The organization’s original research showed that the vast majority of Canadians believed that free trade was beneficial for the country and that trade barriers between provinces should be removed. Encouraged by these results, Montreal Economic Institute developed the Internal Trade Provincial Leadership Index to highlight provinces with exceptionally high or low barriers to internal trade. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce backed and promoted the index. Montreal Economic Institute then initiated a media campaign to educate the public about the issue and encourage them to advocate for change.

As a result of the organization’s campaign, the legislatures of three provinces moved to remove trade barriers. Alberta and Manitoba both chose to reduce barriers outright, encouraging trade with other parts of Canada. Policymakers in Ontario have spoken strongly on the issue, and they have instituted a working group in cooperation with policymakers in Saskatchewan focused on reducing red tape between the provinces. This legislative action to advance free trade is a significant win in Montreal Economic Institute’s effort to ensure all Canadians benefit from better trade policy.