The 1988 Free Trade Agreement

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To ask why Canada entered the 1988 free trade agreement with the United States of America is to ask a complicated question that is likely to garner a different answer from each respondent. The best that one can do when analyzing the multitude of components that led to this agreement is to eliminate any pre-conceived notions that they may hold about liberalized trade, and attempt to objectively assess the issues that this country faced in the years leading up to 1988. Free trade between Canada and the US is likely one of the most contentious issues that our country has ever faced. This becomes apparent when studying Canadian history throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Canadian economic development has flourished, and been stunted, as a…show more content…
He did so without directly consulting the Canadian public. It seems that the economic recessions witnessed in the mid 70’s and early 80’s, and the subsequent Macdonald Commission, signalled an ideological shift in Canada from Keynesian principles of social responsibility, and government economic intervention, to more austere, free market values associated with economists like Milton Friedman. This is evident when we analyze the political ascension of ‘New Right’ figures Margaret Thatcher in Britain, and Ronald Reagan in the US. Thatcher, noted for her self-described “war on labour” and Reagan for his “trickle down” economic scheme were both revered by our own Brian Mulroney, who emulated their efforts, facilitating enhanced corporate sovereignty in Canada. This admiration that Mulroney had for Reagan may also have been conducive to the timeliness of the FTA. A parallel can be drawn between theirs, and the relationship that had existed between William Lyon Mckenzie King and Franklin Delano Roosevelt beginning in 1933, which saw great movement towards Canada-US economic harmonization. However, it must be noted that Mulroney was perceived to be “more corporatist than laissez faire”. Nonetheless, the rise of the Mulroney Conservatives provides a microcosm for the neo-liberal political consensus that spawned in this period. Neo-liberal policies are diametrically opposed to mixed economy approaches, instead favouring free market
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