B.C. and Alberta form a western block in major deal

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The Article

Alberta, B.C. create nation’s No. 2 economy

An alliance that the premiers of BC and Alberta have been working on behind the scenes for years has taken shape.  Ontario won’t like it, nor will Quebec.  I like it.

Miro Cernetig and Fiona Anderson, Vancouver Sun; with files from Canadian Press
Published: Saturday, April 29, 2006

B.C. and Alberta have announced they will form a new trading bloc to create a regional economy within Canada that will usurp Quebec as the country’s No. 2 economy and be second only to Ontario as the country’s economic engine.

The agreement, endorsed by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein in Edmonton Friday, promises to give workers and companies free access to Canada’s two westernmost provinces, now in the midst of an oil, commodities and real estate boom.

“We have become the second-largest economy in Canada,” Campbell said shortly after signing the deal. “This will be noticed across the country.”

The deal, signed after years of negotiations, and in the midst of the bitter lumber war between Canada and the U.S., promises “the most open economies in Canada, if not North America.”

It says “investment rules will be the same in each province; businesses only need to register once for both provinces; standards and regulations will be reconciled, transportation will be streamlined and workers certified for an occupation will have their qualifications recognized in both provinces.”

It is also, according to the B.C. government, going to translate into economic growth.

In dollar terms, Campbell estimates that after the deal is put in place, by 2009, B.C. will see about $4.8 billion a year in benefits and the creation of 78,000 new jobs. But there’s also a long-standing political message: With its booming commodity-based economy, its increasing population and with a prime minister who has his base in the West, there’s a power-shift away from the east.

“We’re perhaps seeing the building a B.C. and Alberta political axis in Confederation,” said Norman Ruff, a political scientist the University of Victoria.

[…] The agreement between B.C. and Alberta will create a combined economy that:

· Is the second-largest in Canada, with joint gross domestic product 30 per cent larger than that of Quebec.

· Could potentially add $4.8 billion to its joint GDP.

· Could lead to 78,000 new jobs in B.C. alone.


Joel Johannesen
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