Friday, December 28, 2007

Free trade a "bust"? Not for Niagara wines

The St. Catharines Standard story, "Free trade a bust for most Canadians, report says", (Dec.28, 2007) reported the "left-wing think tank, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives argues in a report to be released today that while the bilateral trade deal, and its successor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, has boosted corporate bottom lines, for most Canadians it has been a bust."

This Canadian Press article by Julian Beltrame didn't provide any other views on the report.

Niagarans well remember the fearmongering about free trade from the likes of Liberals John Turner and (shudder) David Peterson. It was the global warming hysteria du jour. The Liberals pandered to fears that the protected, plodding, same-old-same-old grape and wine industry would simply disappear. It was a common whine from the Liberals that the wine industry was doomed for destruction...only protectionism and cozy market non-competitiveness could solve their problems. Of course, the Liberals played their greatest card, their anti-American rhetoric, to the fullest.

There was necessary restructuring, but there was new opportunity, as well. Look how well Niagara's wine makers are doing today. The boutique wineries have flourished and are exporting, meeting their competition on levels of service, of price, and most importantly, on quality.

Let's not pretend that free trade, so despised by the Liberals, was a bust for Niagara's wine industry; that it had no part in the impetus to reform and propel the wine industry to greater success.

To pretend otherwise is sour grapes.

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