Canada agrees on free trade with itself

But is it locally spawned?

DOING business across Canada is not for the impatient. Its ten provinces and three territories see themselves as quasi-countries. They set standards and write laws with little regard for what their neighbours are doing. In Ontario petrol must be at least 5% ethanol; Manitoba insists on an 8.5% blend. Each province has its own ideas of how much grain dust people can be exposed to, and what sort of packages coffee creamer should come in. Ontario requires that toilets at construction sites be equipped with “open-front” seats; Alberta is toilet-seat neutral. If you buy booze in one province you had better drink it there. New Brunswick is pursuing a resident all the way to the Supreme Court for refusing to pay a fine of C$292.50 ($220) when he was caught bringing in beer and wine he had purchased in Quebec. Trade among provinces is less free than it is among the 28 members of the European Union.

So politicians from the regions and federal government were in a self-congratulatory mood after they signed a “Canadian Free-Trade Agreement” on April 7th. Brad Duguid, Ontario’s economy minister, who hosted the gathering, pronounced...

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