I have, at times, been rather critical of Stephen Harper and the Conservative government. Their record has been spotty, even on economic matters (supposedly his area of wonk-y strength). However, under Harper, the Conservatives have remained consistently strong in one area, trade. The current deal (in principle) with the E.U. is no exception.
The trade deal is strong from top to bottom, almost. It will significantly increase access to the vast European market, and, better still, will allow Canadians the freedom to buy a lot more European goods. Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks.
Canada had to concede to the repressive intellectual property regulations that Europe has on prescription drugs. This will actually hurt all Canadians, as individuals and provinces will, eventually, be spending more on drugs.
In addition to the IP issue, the trade deal reinforces Canada’s supply management system for dairy, eggs and poultry. Sure, the noose of supply management has been loosened a bit – allowing a little more European cheese into the Canadian market – but it’s still around our collective neck.
Mr. Harper’s government has appeared open, at times, to eliminating supply management. One can only hope that this trade deal isn’t indicative of continuing special privilege that certain farmers will receive. It might be the case that Mr. Harper is working incrementally towards the elimination of supply management, and the increased cheese quota is just a first step.
I have further thoughts on the trade deal at the Commons.