Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland arrives for trade talks at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, in Washington, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jose Luis Magana

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland arrives for trade talks at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, in Washington, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jose Luis Magana

Liberals won’t compromise on culture, dispute resolution in NAFTA talks: Trudeau

Canada is facing a fresh deadline to land a trade deal with the United States and save its place in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held firm Tuesday to the lines drawn in sand three decades ago as the latest push to preserve a North American Free Trade Agreement — one that still includes Canada — was poised to unfold.

Trudeau said Canadians will not sign onto a deal that does not include a dispute resolution mechanism and exemptions for cultural industries — two positions that were among the pillars of the original 1988 Canada-U.S. free trade deal.

The prime minister staked out Canada’s ground as a fresh Oct. 1 deadline and the encroaching American midterm elections cast a shadow over Wednesday’s resumption of negotiations in Washington. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is to resume talks with U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer, whom she has praised as a “good faith” negotiator in the face of President Donald Trump’s Twitter barrages.

Faced with an unpredictable U.S. president ready to strike on Twitter, Trudeau said the dispute resolution mechanism in Chapter 19 ensures trade rules are followed.

“We’ve said from the very beginning that we need a dispute resolution mechanism like Chapter 19 and we will hold firm on that,” Trudeau told reporters in Vancouver.

“We will not sign a deal that is bad for Canadians and, quite frankly, not having a Chapter 19 to ensure that the rules are followed would be bad for Canadians.”

Related: Freeland to break from NAFTA talks to make announcement at embassy

Related: No deal yet as NAFTA renegotiation talks turn bitter at critical stage

Chapter 19 allows for independent panels to resolve disputes between companies. The Trump administration views it as an infringement of U.S. sovereignty.

It was the hill that former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney was willing to die on during the final hours of the original Canada-U.S. free trade deal in 1988. After consulting with Mulroney over the weekend, Trudeau made clear he shares that view.

The prime minister also said his government won’t sign an updated free trade accord with the U.S. and Mexico if the deal doesn’t continue exemptions for Canada’s cultural industries, which aims to protect Canada’s publishing and broadcast industries.

That too was entrenched in the original Canada-U.S. free trade deal that preceded NAFTA. Giving up the exemptions would be tantamount to giving up Canadian sovereignty and identity, Trudeau said.

“It is inconceivable to Canadians that an American network might buy Canadian media affiliates, whether it’s newspapers or TV stations or TV networks,” he said.

“So we’ve made it very clear that defending that cultural exemption is something that is fundamental to Canadians.”

Canada and the U.S. need to present a text to the U.S. Congress by Oct. 1 in order to join the deal the Trump administration signed with Mexico last week, trade analysts say.

The overall goal is to reach a deal by Dec. 1 so Congress can give its approval to a new NAFTA before Mexico’s new president takes office.

Otherwise, Trump is threatening to move ahead on a deal with Mexico that excludes Canada.

Canada enters Wednesday’s talks with some strength on preserving Chapter 19 because American companies need its anti-dumping safeguards more than Canada’s, according to Toronto trade lawyer Cyndee Todgham Cherniak.

Foreign companies seeking relief through Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal are often repeatedly coming up empty handed, said Todgham Cherniak, a former federal tax court adviser.

She said that’s because a recent ruling by the court emphasized that it did not have jurisdiction under the Special Import Measures Act to change so-called “dumping margins.”

Canadian negotiators are also trying to protect Canada’s dairy sector from American demands in NAFTA renegotiations.

The two sides broke off talks Friday as Trump formally notified Congress of the deal with Mexico, saying Canada might join later.

But in recent days he has become more aggressive towards Canada on Twitter — bluster that some trade experts are dismissing as a predictable negotiating tactic.

On Saturday, Trump said there is “no political necessity” to keep Canada in NAFTA and he warned Congress not to interfere or he would kill the pact.

U.S. business and labour leaders have warned Trump not to dump Canada from NAFTA.

Trump’s “bombastic rhetoric” ought to be ignored because he has no power to override the opposition in Congress to exclude Canada, and he needs 60-days notice to terminate NAFTA, said Derek Holt, vice-president and head of capital markets at Scotiabank Global Economics.

Holt wrote in a Tuesday note that Congress will not allow Trump “to skirt past Canada in NAFTA negotiations given the long line-ups of members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — saying they will not support a bilateral deal” with Mexico.

With the U.S. midterms eight weeks away, and Trump facing pressure to maintain the Republican hold on the House and Senate, the influence of Congress will permeate the resumption of Wednesday’s talks.

Congress must approve any rewrite of the deal and could refuse to endorse an agreement that excludes Canada. But that’s not set in stone, said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based trade lawyer with Dickinson Wright.

“Congress will support Canada throughout September,” he said. “After that, Congress will have a tough choice to make in terms of going forward with a good deal with Mexico, opening Mexico’s agricultural markets as we brace for the long haul with China.”

At a Liberal party fundraiser in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday night, Trudeau avoided trade talk, instead outlining the approach the Liberal party will take in the coming election.

Speaking to dozens of supporters at a posh banquet hall, he said he believes his party won the 2015 election by putting out a message of positivity. He also condemned the rise of what he called ”aggressive nationalism.

“We see there is a tendency to exploit short term emotions as a way of getting that capacity to govern. But one of the things that we know is that once you’ve gone and divided citizens into small groups … it actually hurts you capacity to govern for the good of all,” said Trudeau.

He also noted the seven-year sentence handed down to two Reuters reporters in Myanmar and pointed to reporters gathered at the fundraiser, saying the Liberal party believes it’s important to be transparent about the messages it sends to its donors.

“I want everyone to reflect on the fact that it is absolutely essential in any democracy to have a strong, empowered independent media,” he said.

— with files from Amy Smart in Vancouver

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Chilliwack Chiefs played their 2020-21 BCHL season finale Sunday against Prince George at the Chilliwack Coliseum. The junior A team will open 2021-22 with an American Hockey League team calling Abbotsford home. (Darren Francis photo)
Chilliwack Chiefs viewing Abbotsford AHL arrival as an opportunity

The junior A BCHL club hopes to strike up a friendly relationship with the unnamed Canucks affiliate

Chilliwack’s Allie Thiessen enjoyed a productive season for the Central Washington Wildcats women’s softball squad, and earned GNAC All-Academic status. (Central Washington U graphic)
Chilliwack’s Allie Thiessen earns All-Academic status in Great Northwest Athletic Conference

The women’s softball star at Central Washington University had one of the highest GPAs on the list

Trina Hunt’s remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Trina Hunt’s family appeals to killer to step forward after remains found in Hope

Cousins also ask Hope residents to think back to weekend Port Moody woman was in the area

Chilliwack real estate may finally be moving towards a buyers' market, according to the local real estate board. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack real estate sales forecast to see the highest increase in B.C. in 2021

BCREA second quarter forecast predicts 51.6% jump in sales this year, 20% rise in prices

Corey Neyrinck was sentenced on Jan. 19, 2018 to seven years in jail for sexually touching two young girls and creating child pornography. He was released on Dec. 4, 2018. As of May 11, 2021 he faced two counts of failing to comply with a prohibition order. (File)
Chilliwack man sentenced to 7 years for sexually touching underage girls back in custody

One-time school board candidate Corey Neyrinck charged with violating internet prohibitions

Still from a video of a townhouse fire on South Sumas at Vedder Road in Chilliwack on May 9, 2021 before Chilliwack Fire Depatment crew arrived. (Submitted)
VIDEO: Grass fire leads to townhouse blaze in Sardis on Mother’s Day

Chilliwack Fire Department warns that matches and lighters can have ‘devastating’ effects

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read