Pubdate: Thu, 06 Apr 2017
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Andy Blatchford
Page: B1


Governments across Canada will unveil an internal-trade agreement
Friday designed to not only knock down domestic business barriers, but
also lay the groundwork for talks to eventually establish a
cross-country marijuana market.

Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains says the long-awaited
deal, meant to boost economic growth, will also establish a clear
process to help provinces and territories regulate the trade of
recreational pot.

Those discussions can only come, of course, once the federal
government legalizes marijuana with legislation that government
insiders have said would be introduced next week.

Once Ottawa moves forward with legalization, the Canada Free Trade
Agreement will offer a transparent mechanism to help provinces and
territories discuss standards that will include "making sure that
there's more choice and better price points," said Bains.

"It's really about ... having an open market," he said in an interview
Wednesday. "It's all about, again, eliminating any red tape that may

When it comes to pot legalization, Bains said, the government's
overarching objectives remain protecting young Canadians and getting
money out of the hands of criminals.

The reference to marijuana is tucked into an internal-trade deal that
is expected to ease regulations across provinces, open up billions in
new procurement opportunities and set stiffer enforcement rules for

It's due to come into effect July 1 to coincide with Canada's 150th

Governments in Canada expect the deal to create jobs and amplify
domestic trade, which already accounts for $385 billion in annual
activity and makes up 20 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product.

Officials have struggled to pin a number on the potential economic
benefits of removing some inter-provincial trade barriers.

Bains mentioned an estimate made in a speech last September by Bank of
Canada governor Stephen Poloz, who said free internal trade could add
as much as 0.2 percentage points to Canadian growth.

"We recognize that we need to all come together, all hands on deck, in
order to strengthen our economic outlook going forward," Bains said of
a deal he believes will also help Canada in its international talks on
trade and in attracting foreign investment.

The agreement is drawn up in such a way that it allows for the
inclusion of new sectors, such as recreational marijuana.

The deal automatically covers almost every economic area, while
exceptions are clearly identified.

Had pot not been mentioned in the document, there was a risk it could
have become entangled in the same type of regulatory patchwork that
has created barriers to the inter-provincial movements of alcohol in
Canada for decades.

"We are tackling that issue ... but it's been 50 to 100 years of
debate across Canada (about) ways to free up the flow of alcohol,"
said Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, who has
chaired the negotiations.

"We can avoid that when new products like cannabis come onto the
market, if we get it right at the beginning."
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