Saskatchewan in middle of New West Partnership dispute with Manitoba
Manitoba opted not to join trade agreement between Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C.
A trade dispute is brewing in the western provinces with Saskatchewan in the middle of it.
The New West Partnership is a trade agreement between Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C.
Manitoba has opted not to join. Their minister for jobs and the economy, Kevin Chief, has accused Saskatchewan of recently limiting Crown corporation contracts to companies within the trade zone.
Saskatchewan's minister of trade, Jeremy Harrison, calls it an interesting dilemma.
There seems to be a bit of a pattern here recently with Manitoba having these issues. But they would all be solved if Manitoba moved forward with joining the New West Partnership.- Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan Minister Responsible for Trade.
"On the one hand, they seem to want preferential procurement for Crowns in the New West provinces, but don't want to open up their own Crowns for preferential procurement in Manitoba," Harrison said.
There has always been an open invitation to Manitoba to join the partnership, Harrison said.
"There seems to be a bit of a pattern here recently with Manitoba having these issues," he said. "But they would all be solved if Manitoba moved forward with joining the New West Partnership. As I said, the invitation has been an open one and we've had numerous discussion extending that invitation over the years."
Harrison added that having Manitoba in the partnership would be "beneficial to all of us."
The move to form the New West Partnership has upset small beer companies further east, including the Toronto-based Steam Whistle brewery who called Alberta's move protectionist and divisive.
Kevin Chief said last week that the Saskatchewan move surprised him.
it's important for us to do trade as much to the east — in fact, we do more trade to the east — than we do to the west.- Kevin Chief, Manitoba Minister of Jobs and the Economy.
On Monday, Kevin Chief said Manitoba has been focusing on renewing a trade deal that covers all provinces — the Agreement on Internal Trade — which is to be revamped by next spring.
"We are in the centre of the country ... and it's important for us to do trade as much to the east — in fact, we do more trade to the east — than we do to the west," Chief told the Canadian Press.
Chief said he had reached out to Harrison, but Harrison said he had not heard from Chief directly.
Manitoba Opposition Leader Brian Pallister has called on the government to join the New West Partnership. He has said there is no reason the province cannot be part of both regional and national trade agreements.
With files from the Canadian Press