Category Archives: Trade

We are all connected


It should surprise exactly no one that not one Canadian municipality makes the World Economic Forum’s list of most successful cities – not Toronto, not Montreal, not Vancouver, and certainly not any of New Brunswick’s three major urban areas.

We are, after all, in this province mere cartographic postscripts comporting ourselves in much the same way we always have: with one toe tentatively dipped in the future and one foot firmly planted in the past. I sometimes think we like it that way. In fact, there’s nothing particularly wrong with it.

Armies of retirees, fresh from their career conquests in other more economically vigorous parts of the world, have chosen communities like Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John to settle into their sanguine senescence. Here, crime rates are low, house prices are stunningly reasonable, and the natural environment is, by every comparison, downright pristine.

But, ultimately, no region can survive its own sleepy traditions and predilections by insulating itself from the rest of the world. What is virtuous about a place can eventually become disadvantageous. Whether we like it or not, we are all connected on this planet.

Over the years, the urgent conversation among those here who recognize this simple fact of life in the 21st Century has concerned the character of progress. How far can we go without compromising that which makes this part of the world unique and efficacious? We’ve not settled on a definitive answer, but we have found some enlivening clues.

The World Economic Forum offers some insight. “Forces of globalization, urbanization and technological advancement are transforming the definition of a ‘successful’ city and reshaping the global urban hierarchy in the process,” it recently posted on its website. “Success can no longer be measured simply by considering a city’s size and historical attributes. Today it is more likely to revolve around innovation, ‘liveability’ and the ability to transform and adapt.”

On this score, it elaborates, “Many of the top 20 cities in the 2016 City Momentum Index – including London, San Francisco and Sydney – are home to vibrant mixed-used districts which create and amplify opportunities to conceive and commercialize new ideas. This reinforces the idea that city momentum involves much more than GDP growth. It also requires building an innovation-oriented economy through technology. It means creating cutting-edge new businesses. And it involves attracting talent and nurturing a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

Are we, in New Brunswick, doing enough of this? If the size of a place no longer matters as a determinant of economic and social health, where are the large and small innovations that really do make a difference? The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation insists they’re out there. “With over $70 million invested, plus $380 million more leveraged from other sources, NBIF has helped to create over 90 companies and fund 400 applied research projects since its inception in 2003, with a current portfolio of 42 companies,” its website declares. “All of NBIF’s investment returns go back into the Foundation to be re-invested in other new startup companies and research initiatives.”

Fair enough, but we need more of this. The fact that I can count the number of business incubators in this province that regularly garner mainstream media attention on one hand suggests that we haven’t truly leveraged the global innovation agenda to our full advantage.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, Silicon Valley was a craggy patch of earth on California’s west coast. Shall we, in New Brunswick continue to consign ourselves to a similar condition, or shall we make our success stories convincingly and finally resonate?

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Trumped on trade

Following the first presidential debate between The Trumpster and The Hillanator, Saturday Night Live staged a bit in which the comic playing Mrs. Clinton suddenly broke down and wept tears of joy.”

“Tell me, what’s going on,” the fake moderator asked.

“Oh,” said fake Hillary as fake Donald paused briefly in his bloviating, blustering and cartoonish posturing, “I just wish we could have the election tonight, right after this debate Do you think that’s possible? Could we?”

Millions of Americans can be forgiven for seriously wanting to be rid of this goon show unfolding before them with nauseating relentlessness. But those who think Canadians, and New Brunswickers in particular, have no skin in the game south of the border (apart from the sort of awful fascination that sometimes overcomes one when passing a car wreck on the highway) should think again.

Until it became clear, only recently, that Mr. Trump was unlikely to recover from the serious case of foot-in-mouth disease he’s managed to contract, some odds makers had the man neck and neck with the former first lady. A few were even predicting a win for The Donald. Now, New Brunswickers, who actually understand something about how our economy works, are breathing easier.

Mr. Trump’s opinions about immigrants (he doesn’t like them), Muslims (he doesn’t trust them) and women (he likes them just fine as long as they submit to his masculine irresistibility) are well known. Less so are his views on international trade involving the United States.

On that, the Republican presidential candidate had this to say in a major speech in Detroit last August: “Trade has big benefits, and I am in favour of trade. But I want great trade deals for our country that create more jobs and higher wages for American workers. Isolation is not an option, only great and well-crafted trade deals are.”

Regarding NAFTA, Mr. Trump declared, “A total renegotiation is what I want. . .If we don’t get a better deal, we will walk away. . .Americanism, not globalism, will be our new credo.”

Give the man credit for his talking points, but dismantling NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) and installing an even more American-friendly trade framework would be a disaster up here in the Great White North.

Since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement launched in1989, the volume of import-export activity in good and services between the two countries more than tripled. According to Trade and Investment Canada’s web page, “Thanks to this agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement, the trading relationship between our two countries is so strong that we exchanged approximately $2.4 billion in goods and services every day in 2015. Canada is the U.S.’s largest customer, purchasing US$338 billion in goods and services in 2015. Canada buys more from the United States than does any other nation – including all 28 countries of the European Union. Canada and the United States are the world’s largest trading partners.”

Where does New Brunswick stand in that mix? In 2012, the United States was this province’s most significant export destination, with the value of inbound/outbound goods and services estimated at nearly 13 billion. The U.S. accounted for 86.3 per cent of the value of this province’s exports in that year, compared to 88 per cent in 2007.

Perhaps it is already occurring to certain Americans that what happens in their country’s political system has ramifying effects virtually everywhere else. A Trump win could ruin New Brunswick’s economy. That his chances grow increasingly unlikely is cause for shedding the odd tear of joy.


An ode to our aging trades


I sit on my front porch in the old west end of Moncton as the eastern sun threatens to set, and watch while two men who must be ten years my senior – 65 years each, if a day – rebuild the front of my neighbor’s house.

They take their time, because doing things right, plying the skills they were taught when they were young, doesn’t mean just something: It means everything.

“Now, that’s a handsome job,” I say as I gambol up the street to inspect.
“Well, thank you,” the man in the orange t-shirt replies.

“No, I mean it,” I say. “That’s a truly magnificent job.”

The man in the blue shirt looks at me as if I’ve never seen a job site before. I explain that I once worked for a master carpenter in Toronto, a long time ago, and nothing he ever did could compare to the work these guys were executing for their relatives in this time, on this street.

Would he and his partner be interested in replacing my back deck, I wondered aloud?

“Oh no,” they chime almost in unison. “We’re retired.”

More’s the pity; for as time marches on for this province, for this region of Canada, retirement seems especially poisonous to the long-term economic future of the body politic.

I long ago abandoned any notion of “retirement”. The concept seemed to me, as a small businessman and owner-operator, not only impractical, but also irresponsible. After all, if I manage to retain all the skills my particular craft demand, shouldn’t I be obligated to continue for as long as my physical and mental health support?

According to David DeLong, an American speaker and labour-force consultant, “Many executives today worry that skill shortages threaten their organization’s ability to grow and innovate. A recent survey I designed for one manufacturing sector found that almost 60 per cent of managers responding thought skill shortages were already hurting their firm’s productivity and quality.

“But, despite a seriously aging population in the U.S. and the rest of the industrialized world, only four per cent of this same group saw the aging workforce as an immediate threat to performance. Most expect the effects of aging Boomers to come 3-5 years. About 20 per cent don’t see the aging workforce as a concern at all.”

And, really, why would they?

Those of us who have survived one, two, three, four and five horrible recessions know a thing or two about surviving the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. In fact, in a weird and wonderful way, we relish these downturns.

We are young enough to recall what real fear feels like and old enough to remember how we overcame the daily terror.

Now, we “old folks” stand and deliver the lessons of experience – the tutorials necessary to bring a youthful, hopeful provincial government to heed the narrow truths behind its own broad rhetoric.

In truth, we will not prosper in the long range until will embrace the importance of small victories against the gathering darkness of global recession in the short range.

That means investing in the little enterprises whose owners – likely elderly folk who know a thing or two about surviving and thriving – are incapable of giving up, going dark and sending themselves into the retirement they say they crave.

“I’m really too old for this,” the man in the blue shirt says.

“Me too,” the man in the orange shirt says.

“So,” I say, “You’re done, then.”

The smiles arrive: “Oh no, we’ll be back. . .We will always be back.”

Who you gonna call?


It was only when I noticed the albino mushrooms growing from the black seam in the ceiling above the kitchen pantry that I began to momentarily panic.

I climbed the stepladder, butter knife in hand, determined to cut them down without becoming a hapless victim in some real-life iteration of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. They slipped into my trembling paw like dollops of rancid margarine, their spores coating my knuckles.

Two-year-old granddaughter Ruby, her gaze fixed firmly on the objects of my revulsion, promptly announced through the Popsicle planted in her mouth: “Poppy, yucky; fix it!”

I would if I could, dearest, but the Internet – try as it might – does not provide an instructional video for feckless scribblers on advanced plumbing. As for the leak in the bathroom almost directly over your head. . .well, let’s just move your chair to another location, preferably across the street.

Naturally, I elocuted all of this in my “inside voice”. Outwardly, I made a frantic round of calls to old contractors and tradesmen of my acquaintance who had, over the years and on more than one occasion, saved my sorry derriere in this “vintage” property I assumed more than a decade ago.

“Is Jim home? No? He’s gone to Alberta? You don’t say. Okay, thanks. . .No. . .No message.”

“So, Frank is retired? And he closed up shop? No forwarding address. . .Right, thanks very much anyway.”

“Waddya mean Ed disappeared without a trace? You think what, again? You think aliens abducted him, and they’re now using him to build party decks on Alpha Centauri?”

As it happens, I’m not alone in my all-but-vain search for quality trades. Where once, in New Brunswick, they were as plentiful as the rain in spring, they’re now like dust in the wind. And not just here.

Two years ago, Forbes Magazine writer Joshua Wright penned this: “For the last three years, according to ManpowerGroup the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff with skilled talent hasn’t been registered nurses or engineers or even web developers. It’s been the skilled trades – the welders, electricians, machinists, etc. that are so prevalent in manufacturing and construction.

“In 2012, 53 per cent of skilled-trade workers in the U.S. were 45 years and older, and 18.6 per cent were between the ages of 55 and 64. (We are using the Virginia Manufacturers Association’s definition of skilled trades, which encompasses 21 particular occupations.) Contrast those numbers with the overall labor force, where 44 per cent of workers were at least 45 years old, and 15.5 percent of jobs were held by the 55-to-64 demographic.”

Conditions for tradesmen and women in Canada aren’t much better. Three years ago, Rick Spence, writing for the Financial Post, observed: “Despite rising unemployment in 2009, a Statistics Canada study that year found 24 per cent of Canadian companies weren’t able to find ‘the right talent’ to fill the jobs available.”

Fortunately, my granddaughter and I are luckier than most. Through a reputable, locally owned building supply company we found a fellow by the name of Josh – a sturdy, durable man with a penetrating wit and exhaustive knowledge of the “right” and “wrong” ways to rebuild a bathroom and, one imagines, just about everything else.

He, in turn, employs a carpenter by the name of Adam – whom I would trust to erect a cathedral composed entirely of locally sourced hemlock – and a plumber by the name of Elliot – whose knowledge of metallurgy and water density is almost mystical.

I’m no longer panicking – at least, not at at the moment.

Loosen up the ties that bind in Atlantic Canada


The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, that favourite whipping post of the progressive left, is no stranger to provocation.

Its website recounts proudly its origin story:

“One evening in 1969, John Bulloch, a teacher at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, was soaking in his tub and reading the new federal White Paper on taxation. He was infuriated to see it proposed a 50 per cent tax rate for Canadian small businesses.

The then Liberal government had exempted the powerful from many of its proposals, and proceeded to hammer small business and middle-income Canadians.”

One tax revolt and three years later the CFIB was born, and it’s been fighting what it believes to be the good fight ever since.

Consider the recent doings of its Atlantic Vice-President Jordi Morgan, one of the featured speakers at last week’s Sussex & District Chamber of Commerce (yours truly was the other one) annual business awards dinner. He’s incensed by interprovincial trade barriers. Indeed, he has every right to be.

Almost everyone in the Atlantic provinces – businesspeople, politicians, economists, academics – agrees that the framework regulating the flow of goods and services across provincial borders is archaic, frequently absurd and often pernicious.

In fact, dismantling inter-provincial trade barriers in Canada has been one of the putative goals of swaths of provincial leaders since the last decade of the 20th century, when the Agreement on Internal Trade came into effect to explicityly “reduce barriers to the movement of persons, goods, services and investments within Canada.”

The problem is the effort has been like drawing blood from a stone. As Mr. Morgan observed during his address last week, “It takes leadership, and will require considerable. . .courage.”

That’s because we have quite probably lost site of the lessons of our own history – a common enough occurrence in this and every other country.

“Earlier this year,” Mr. Morgan reported, “we surveyed our membership. . .Almost 89 per cent of our members who responded in Atlantic Canada agree the premiers should commit to reducing internal trade barriers. This is nothing new.”

He continued: “In 1864, the first of the Charlottetown conferences was convened to hammer out some of the philosophical and legal structures of our nation. . .The founding fathers found a point of agreement in opposition to Inter-Provincial Trade Barriers. They believed if Canadians were to prosper it was essential that all Canadians could freely access markets within the country.”

In fact, the Constitution is clear. Section 121 (March, 1867) states: “All Articles of the Growth, Produce or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Province.”

But a funny thing happened on the way to the national marketplace. “Through a variety of decisions throughout the 20the century, subsequent judicial interpretations of section 121 served to open the door to closing more doors,” Mr. Morgan said. “While custom duties and similar charges remain prohibited between provinces, successive government have successfully closed or restricted their provincial borders through mazes of indirect taxation and absurd regulations.”

How silly have matters become?

The size of milk and cream containers are tightly mandated. Asked Mr. Morgan: “Do we need protection from the amount of milk we put in our coffee?”

Then there’s the annoying fuss over truck tires. “From province to province, the regulations aren’t consistent,” Mr. Morgan said. “There are situations where depending on the load, trucks must stop and change tires when they cross the provincial border to be in compliance.”

These are only a few examples from a regulatory regime that, more often than not, continues to obstruct trade long after the protections it once provided outlived their useful purpose. It also seems patently ludicrous that while Prime Minister Stephen Harper jaunts around the world signing free trade agreement with the Europeans, the fine for bringing the equivalent of two bottles of wine purchased in another province into New Brunswick is 300 bucks.

Within this context, interprovincial trade in goods and services should not be a politically charged issue. To its credit, the CFIB is not making it one.

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Europeans flying high on Canada’s dime


Taxes, we are firmly told by our big brothers in federal office, are not for repairing the nation’s frayed social safety net.

They are not for offsetting the demographic demands on the health care system of an increasingly aging population.

And they are certainly not for anything so wobbly and unnecessary as a fully-subsidized, universal program of early childhood education spanning this great realm from coast to coast to shining coast.

I can tell you what they are for, though.

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave visiting European delegates a free flight home to Brussels last week, after adding a Toronto reception to their schedule,” the CBC dutifully reported on Sunday, after having obtained a government email to the RCMP’s Protective Policing branch.

According to the public broadcaster’s Terry Milewski, “That reception made it impossible for the visitors to make a planned commercial flight from Ottawa, and thereby get to a Saturday meeting in Brussels. The cost of the (Canadian Forces) Airbus flight is estimated at more than $300,000”

Specifically, the piece states: “The modified Airbus A310 costs $22,537 an hour to operate, according to official figures in 2012. The price has likely risen since then, but, at that rate, and assuming 15 hours’ flight time from Toronto to Brussels and back, the trip would have cost $338,055.”

And that doesn’t begin to account for the costs of additional security, motorcades, or the reception, itself, which was arranged to mark the occasion of Canada and the European Union signing their new Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Of course, opinions varied on the significance of the cotillion, itself.

Trade Minister Ed Fast assured the House of Commons that it was “a critical element” of the European visit. “On this side, we understand how important trade and investment are to driving economic growth and long-term prosperity in this country,” he said whilst denouncing his NDP tormentors as “anti-trade”.

Yet, the Europeans, themselves, seemed to suggest that the reception was not a formal extension of the summit which produced the final agreement earlier in the day. It was. . .oh. . .how do you say? . .a party.

And as people would be up late, presumably having a marvelous time trading war stories from their days at the negotiating table (Hey Frank, you remember that time I rewrote Section 4, Sub-section 8, Paragraph A in less than three minutes? I tell you, the Europeans never knew what hit ‘em), putting a publicly paid-for jet at the disposal of our new best-friends-forever to facilitate their last-minute return home, is just the gentlemanly thing to do.

At least Greg Thomas wasn’t buying the hooey. According to the CBC article, the director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation found himself in the deliciously ironic position of being a guest of the event at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto: “(He) said his organization would send a cheque to the government for the cost of his attendance, and added that the Airbus freebie was a waste of taxpayers’ money. ‘Victory lap or not, there’s no excuse (for) blowing 300 grand on short notice for what amounts to a political show,’ (he added). ‘Many Canadians can stomach the expense of hosting the royal family when they come to Canada. (But) having royal treatment afforded to European bureaucrats is not something that’s going to go down, I think, in any part of the country. They could have done this in Ottawa. They could have saved $300,000 and it would have had the same effect.’”

Amen to that, brother. And if this were any other sort of negotiation, planners in the Prime Minister’s Office might well have decided that discretion is, indeed, the better part of valour.

But this was CETA, the glittering jewell in Stephen Harper’s crown as prime minister – or so he believes. 

“The historic. . .Agreement is by far Canada’s most ambitious trade initiative, broader in scope and deeper in ambition than the. . .North American Free Trade Agreement,” reads the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development website. “It will open new markets to our exporters throughout the EU and generate significant benefits for all Canadians. The Government of Canada has made opening new markets through agreements like CETA a priority – just one way it is creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians in every region of the country.”

Let us hope so. It seems we have some taxes to pay.

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Want more jobs? Drop the trade barriers



Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is proving that oil is not the only commodity in which the west is awash these days. Some pretty nifty ideas are also in long supply in Big Sky country where Maritimers go to, among pother things, retire their debts.  

Consider Mr. Wall’s concept of a “Canada Free Trade Zone”, in which goods, services, people, skills and professions move effortlessly across provincial borders, goosing the national economy by as much as $50 billion a year.

According to a report in the Globe and Mail this week, British Columbia and Alberta Premiers Christy Clark and Dave Hancock think it’s a grand idea and signed a letter to that effect, “urging their counterparts” in other provinces “to agree to modernizing the 20-year-old Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) when their meet in Charlottetown in August for the Council of the Federation.” 

As Mr. Wall tells the Globe, “AIT is pretty anemic as a trade agreement. . .We start from the premise that everything is open.”

Evidently, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island Premiers Stephen McNeil and Robert Ghiz are enthusiastic. And while there’s no official word on New Brunswick Premier David Alward’s sentiments, the chances are excellent that Mr. Energy East Pipeline will endorse anything that threatens to enrich Canada’s second-least populous province, where 750,000 souls shoulder an annual public deficit of $500 million and a long-term, structural debt of $12 billion.

In fact, dismantling inter-provincial trade barriers in this country has been an ongoing home improvement project for provincial premiers since at least 1995, when the AIT first came into effect to “reduce barriers to the movement of persons, goods, services and investments within Canada.”

Effectively, according to an Industry Canada blurb, the agreement establishes “general rules which prevent governments from erecting new trade barriers and which require the reduction of existing ones in areas covered under the Agreement; specific obligations in 10 economic sectors – such as government purchasing, labour mobility and investment – which cover a significant amount of economic activity in Canada; the streamlining and harmonization of regulations and standards (e.g. transportation, consumer protection); a formal dispute resolution mechanism that is accessible to individuals and businesses as well as governments; and commitments to further liberalize trade through continuing negotiations and specified work programs.”

The problem is, as Mr. Wall observes, it’s worn out and obsolete. Recent international trade agreements provide foreigners, in many cases, with readier access to Canadian markets than Canadians, themselves, enjoy.

In an interview with the Halifax Chronicle-Herald last year, Corinne Pohlmann, vice-president of national affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said a study her Halifax office conducted “indicated that nearly half of all small business owners want apprenticeship changes. . .It seems ironic that we are approaching a trade deal with the European Union while we have so much regulatory variation between our own provinces and territories. . .All these often conflicting restrictions on interprovincial trade and movement of skilled workers and products must seem petty when viewed from outside Canada.”

They do, indeed. Still, there is precedent for enlightenment in this country. There is, for example, the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between Alberta and British Columbia. 

Signed in 2006, its purported benefits include the scaleable opportunities (in terms of both GDP growth and job creation) possible in a fluid marketplace of nearly eight million people and an economy of more than $400 billion.

Moreover, says the Agreement, “A tradesperson such as a plumber or a welder, or a professional such as an architect or a nurse, can move to Alberta from British Columbia or vice versa and have his or her certification recognized in the new province of residence. . .Duplicate business registration and reporting requirements as well as residency requirements have been removed.”

Meanwhile, “Allowing goods, services, capital and labour to flow more freely across the Alberta-BC border (boosts) trade, makes it easier for businesses to expand into the other province, and lower costs for businesses and taxpayers. . .Open procurement policies with low thresholds help ensure that people get the best value for tax dollars. They also create more opportunities for businesses to bid on public contracts at dollar levels where small and medium-sized enterprises are able to compete.”

Perhaps, this time, Mr. Wall’s modest proposal is an idea whose time has come. 


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Courting the world as the homefront crumbles


Say what you will about the federal Conservative government’s evolving conception of international affairs, at least it has one. Far less clear are its notions about more humdrum, though no less crucial, matters of domestic tranquility.

News reports earlier this week confirmed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will roll out an entirely new approach to foreign policy – one that makes something called “economic diplomacy” the centerpiece of his government’s efforts overseas.

In fact, this Global Markets Action Plan is merely a refurbished version of the Global Commerce Strategy, established in 2007 to, according to a government website, “respond to changes in the global economy and position Canada for long-term prosperity. . .(in). . .13 priority markets around the world where Canadian opportunities and interests had the greatest potential for growth.”

Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail quotes selectively from the new plan, which directs federal officials, including senior members of the Tory caucus, to “entrench the concept of ‘economic diplomacy’ as the driving force behind the Government of Canada’s activities through its international diplomatic network.”

Indeed, deploying the trenchant language of public service memo writers in times of war, the report insists that “all diplomatic assets of the Government of Canada will be marshalled on behalf of the private sector.”

For those who cling to the idea that non-commercial interests – such as humanitarian assistance, poverty reduction, human rights, health and safety, and education – should guide Canada’s foreign policy and that multilateral collaboration is the only effective instrument with which to pursue these objectives, the shift in thinking at Foreign Affairs is a disaster.

For those who believe, however, that expanding the reach of the country’s businesses, particularly the small and medium-sized ones, is the most productive way to inculcate Canadian values and make the world safe for our particular brand of capitalist democracy (which may just be one of the more transparent oxymorons in the contemporary lexicon), economic diplomacy is a triumph of pragmatism.

Still, regardless of one’s opinion of the plan, we can all agree on at least one thing: it’s a real platform from which to tell the world that Canada is open for business. Then again, how are we doing on the homefront?

No less an authority than Canada’s Auditor-General, Michael Ferguson, worries about that kind of thing every day. His latest report, out this week, unwittingly raises troubling counterpoints to the ones our new economic diplomats proudly propagate. To wit: We may be ready to take the world by storm, but can we fix what’s broken in our own backyard?

On everything from food and transportation safety to border security, Mr. Ferguson finds the current office holders in Ottawa severely lacking in vision.

On food, the A-G report, declared, “There are weaknesses in the Canada Food Inspection Agency’s (CIFA) follow-up activities after a product has been removed from the marketplace. The CFIA did not have the documentation it is required to collect to verify that recalling firms had appropriately disposed of recalled products or taken timely actions to identify and correct the underlying cause of the recall to reduce the likelihood of a food safety issue reoccurring.”

About rail safety, the audit observed, “Despite the fact that federal railways were required 12 years ago to implement safety management systems for managing their safety risks and complying with safety requirements, Transport Canada has yet to establish an audit approach that provides a minimum level of assurance that federal railways have done so. While it has done a few audits of those systems, most of the audits it did were too narrowly focused and provided assurance on only a few aspects of SMSs. At the rate at which the Department is conducting focused audits, it will take many years to audit all the key components of SMS regulations, including key safety systems of each of the 31 federal railways.”

As for border security, Mr. Ferguson said simply that “systems and practices for collecting, monitoring, and assessing information to prevent the illegal entry of people into Canada are often not working as intended. As a result, some people who pose a risk to Canadians’ safety and security have succeeded in entering the country illegally.”

It’s all very well to court the world’s commercial movers and shakers.

But what, one wonders, will they find should they ever return the favour and put down stakes in our own home and native land?

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