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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Where do we fit in? : an explanation of the provinces' place in the Canada-US relationship and their involvement in re-negotiating NAFTA Lehner, Chelsea Rae


The purpose of this paper is to explore the place of the provinces in the Canada-United States relationship by looking at the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In order to understand the current Canada-US relationship, a brief overview of the history of the relationship will be presented as well as various ways to define the relationship. This paper seeks to explain the constitutional place of the provinces in this complex relationship. The Canadian economy relies on natural resources, a matter of provincial jurisdiction. The provinces feel this earns them a place at the negotiating table. This paper argues the provinces will not have a seat at the negotiating table with the federal government, as occurred during the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations. The provinces are motivated to try and recreate a CETA-like negotiation environment, which would get each province to the negotiation table. The provinces want to lobby the US federal government to create this environment because the US has more power in the Canada-US trade relationship. The personal relationships various Premiers have created will help to increase their individual provincial bargaining positions. There have been varying levels of provincial involvement in preparing for NAFTA negotiations. In order for the Canadian government to present an image of unity to the US, the provinces will not have direct involvement but will instead be consulted. This paper will argue the level of provincial involvement during CETA was an isolated example. All ten provinces at the table, vying for their own self-interests at the expense of other provinces, would harm the country as a whole.

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