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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 200,000 businesses across Canada, issued the following statement at the conclusion of today’s First Ministers Meeting in Montreal:

“The Chamber is pleased to learn that the Government may be open to amendments to Bill C-69 to address concerns raised by industry, as the Chamber has been calling for on behalf of its members. We have proposed a number of amendments to address serious problems with the current draft and we look forward to working together with the Government to bring much-needed clarity to the bill.

However, we are disappointed that Canada’s First Ministers missed the opportunity to take real action in the national interest to resolve the pressing economic issues undermining Canadian jobs and economic security.  While the meeting resulted in productive talks, it did not result in real action, particularly in dealing with an oil and gas sector in crisis, nor was it ambitious in scope for the reduction of barriers in intra provincial trade.

While we understand that the complex issues facing Canada’s economy cannot be solved with a single meeting, First Ministers could have taken more concrete actions to protect Canada’s economic prosperity, including:

• A commitment from First Ministers not to block interprovincial linear energy and infrastructure projects that originate outside of their jurisdiction. In the absence of consensus, the federal government should introduce special legislation declaring the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in the national interest and clear the path for the project to get built. To accelerate the project the federal government should also enact legislation that would prevent the NEB from having to duplicate the studies that have already been completed.

• While we applaud the effort to address inter-provincial trucking regulatory differences, the Chamber was looking for a more determined commitment to remove most internal trade barriers through a broad mutual recognition of each province’s standards, across all sectors, and to do so within the short term. A product or worker that is lawful in one province should be lawful in other provinces and territories across the country. This the basis for how Australia and the EU govern their internal markets and there is no reason Canada cannot do the same.

Sadly, Canada’s First Ministers have missed another opportunity to address the challenges that hurt Canadian businesses, the people they employ and the communities in which they operate. It is far past time to take the steps necessary to ensure Canada is an attractive place to start and grow a business and to invest. The business community remains ready to work with governments at all levels to help make Canada a more prosperous place for all Canadians.”