Prime minister hopeful Andrew Scheer promised on Tuesday a Conservative government would scrap trade barriers between provinces and have a hands-off approach to federal governance in a major policy speech from Alberta.
The Tory leader said “I am not talking about a simple memorandum of understanding”, calling for “a stronger and freer federation” that is more decentralized in comparison to the current Liberal government’s “top down” federalism.
“The interprovincial Free Trade Agreement will be a real free trade deal, like NAFTA, like CETA, like the TPP,” Scheer said on national networks, adding that “it will be a huge step forward” beyond the agreement put in play two years ago.
The Stephen Harper government launched negotiations with provinces around what became the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, according to previous news reports, but Scheer blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for not fixing 130 pages of exemptions.
While Trudeau has had tried to connect with premiers across the country, he has not had much success as more provinces elect conservative governments, who are against the federal carbon tax.
However, Scheer said due to there being seven “free enterprise, pro-trade” premiers across the nation, Ottawa has a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to fix what he calls economic injustice.
The party leader went on to reiterate his plan to bring about a coast-to-coast, national energy corridor, admitting that it would take “a lot of work”. Scheer said it would not be carried out if there is one or more provinces that object.
Quebec Premier François Legault has definitively made clear he would not want a new pipeline from Alberta — part of Scheer’s plan — going through his province.