October 2012

Tarnished anniversary: Why the free-trade deal didn’t deliver

Twenty-five years ago this week, the signing of the Canada – U.S. free-trade agreement (FTA) sparked one of the most passionate political debates in Canadian history.

Reflecting on the debate, and the outcomes of the FTA, can we now say who was right, and who was wrong?

Conventional wisdom holds that the trade deal worked out fairly well for Canada. However, the subsequent social and economic consequences are more like what the deal’s critics predicted.

The FTA’s supporters argued that it would help close the long-standing economic performance gap between Canada and the U...