Newfoundland and the EU, or, is Canada a Country or a Collection of Semi-Sovereign States?

12 05 2009

CanWest is reporting that Newfoundland (and Labrador) Premier Danny Williams “nearly derailed” the Canada-EU trade agreement. I have two reactions to this story. It’s odd that the province in Canada that is closest to the EU geographically is acting as a barrier to a Canada-EU trade deal. Moreover, this story just reminds us of just how powerful Canada’s provinces are: despite the fact that external affairs are a matter of federal jurisdiction, even a small province can expect to exercise veto power over a major international trade deal. Can US states veto Washington’s agreements? Did Rhode Island have a veto over the Iraq War?

Newfoundland isn’t the only provincial government to try to get involved in the making of Canadian foreign policy.