Don’t call it a comeback; we’ve had industrial policies before.
Indeed, it might not come as a surprise when free trade makes an appearance again, this time as a focus of the Ontario election on June 2. The difference, however, will be its lack of debate.
Broadly speaking, previous debate has been between those on the right praising the economic opportunities offered by free trade and those on the left criticizing that it seems to come at the expense of sovereignty and manufacturing jobs.
In the past few days, we’ve seen border blockades shut down major trade routes, with some American officials using the blockages to justify their calls to locate more manufacturing operations in the U.S. Faced with this not-so-neighbourly competition for manufacturing jobs and investment, the left-right trade divide has largely been bridged. And this newfound common ground will be on display during the Ontario election campaign.
For Canadian companies, this creates a new dynamic and a new opportunity: a loose partnership with the government to protect access, opportunities, and even the trade agreements themselves.