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Kenney vows to scrap provincial trade barriers

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney sits between the premiers of B.C. and the Northwest Territories at the Council of the Federations in Saskatoon July 10, 2019 (Credit - @jkenney/Twitter)
Summary

Canada's 13 provincial and territorial leaders conclude their annual conference today in Saskatoon

Kenney's announcement follows a campaign promise he made the cut red tape for business

SASKATOON (660 NEWS) – At a meeting with his counterparts in Saskatoon, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is vowing to wage war on inter-provincial barriers and red tape.

“It’s easier to move goods and services or workers and professionals between the 28 sovereign countries of the European Union than between the 10 provinces and three territories of Canada, that’s just wrong,” Kenney said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Kenney wants to make it easier to improve the free flow of goods and services across provincial boundaries.

“Why should a doctor from Alberta not be able to move to B.C. and have her or his medical licence recognized,” Kenney asked. “Why should a nurse not be able to move from Quebec to Ontario and have her or his nursing certificate recognized?”

Inter-provincial trade barriers also restrict the free flow of various consumer goods like beer, wine and some dairy products.

Kenney said Alberta is eliminating 13 of 27 exceptions under the Canada Free Trade Agreement including all related to procurement, or government contracts.

“It means there will be more competition for bidding on contracts in the province,” Kenney said. “That means lower costs and savings for taxpayers.”

You can understand if some Canadians take the message with a grain of salt.

Several premiers have made similar promises in the past only to have those plans bog down in the process.

Also on Wednesday, Kenney took aim at Quebec Premier Francois Legault over his opposition to pipelines.

READ MORE: Premiers to focus on Quebec over pipelines, religious symbols at conference 

Legault and other Quebec politicians are opposed to the Energy East project, which would deliver diluted bitumen from Alberta to a refinery in Saint John, N.B.

Legault said there’s no “social acceptability” for pipelines in Quebec.

Kenney has a blunt message for the Quebec premier.

“I said to him plainly, that Quebec receives about $13-billion a year in equalization payments, almost all of that comes from Alberta. We expect provinces that benefit from our energy wealth to help us actually develop that wealth. If you’re going to benefit from the resources that pay the bills in the Federation then help us develop those resources and get a fair price for them.”

Kenney is hoping the message sinks in.

“There’s an ongoing conversation about how we can be partners in prosperity and I hope Premier Legault after today’s discussion has a deeper understanding of how passionately people feel about that across the country.”