“I’m going for dinner,” my friend said when I asked about her trip to Montreal. She’s the owner of one of Calgary’s finest restaurants and it seemed like a long way to go for something to eat. “There’s a restaurant there that I love and I’ve got to go back,” she explained. She also had a good friend to visit and spent a few days there, but the trip was really motivated by that one particular restaurant.
Fine dining isn’t a new concept, of course; the Michelin Guide started awarding stars to restaurants back in 1926. And the wealthy have always prized a delicious meal in what used to be called “fancy” restaurants. Thirty years ago, many Canadians would dine out only when they travelled or for a special event such as a birthday or anniversary. By the 1990s, dining out had become a common way to socialize. It was recreational.
Most of us remember as children learning the Bible’s Golden Rule: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” It’s too bad that so many of our politicians and trade negotiators seem to have forgotten this, especially around free trade and procurement.
The pitfall with trade liberalization is that governments want only the parts that work in their favour. They would love it if their domestic or provincial businesses were to have broader access to bid on contracts or sell product into other jurisdictions with no tariff barriers or obstacles. But when it comes to outside companies gaining access on their home turf, suddenly they believe the free-trade agreement needs some tweaking.