Freeland urges opposition parties to ratify new NAFTA deal swiftly


Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is urging the opposition political parties to work together to pass the new NAFTA “without undue delay.”

During a news conference on Parliament Hill Monday, Freeland said it’s time to end the economic uncertainty that lingered during the lengthy trade negotiations with the United States and Mexico. She called on opposition parties to collaborate and ratify the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) — which she called “NAFTA-plus” — because it’s in the best interests of all Canadians.

“Therefore, I ask that all of us in this place work together as colleagues to put Canada and Canadians first and to pass this legislation without undue delay,” she said.

Freeland noted that the trade agreement received bipartisan support in the U.S. in a “highly polarized” political climate.

When CUSMA comes into force, 99.9 per cent of Canadian exports to the U.S. will be tariff-free, Freeland said. She called the agreement the most progressive trade deal in Canada’s history.

“This is a victory for all Canadians of every political persuasion and from all regions of our great country,” she said.

Municipal and provincial leaders and business groups are asking the Liberal government and opposition parties to expedite the bill to implement CUSMA, which is expected to be tabled Wednesday.

Earlier today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tweeted that the new NAFTA is “a good deal for Canadians.”

“As we return to Parliament, we hope to ratify this modernized agreement that will secure millions of jobs, and keep our growing economy strong,” he said on Twitter.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said North America will always remain Canada’s most important trade zone and that approving the agreement is “crucial” for businesses.

“Over the last three years, Canadian businesses have sought certainty on the future of our trade relationship in the face of a protectionist U.S. administration. Canada took a multi-partisan approach to the negotiations and we hope that Parliamentarians will be able to work collaboratively to pass the implementing legislation,” the business advocacy organization said in a statement.

‘Good outcome overall’

“All trade talks involve give and take, and the CUSMA represents a good outcome overall for the Canadian economy, even if not all aspects of the agreement were perfect for every sector of the economy.”

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) also released a statement calling on Parliament to quickly approve the trade deal to give cities and communities more economic certainty.

“Canadian municipalities play an important role in building strong relationships across borders and supporting the case for free and fair trade. Over the past several years, mayors from across the country connected with our U.S. counterparts to promote the benefits of a strong and fair economic partnership between our two countries,” wrote FCM President Bill Karsten in a news release.

“Municipalities in Canada, the United States and Mexico have an important stake in the ratification of the new NAFTA agreement. We are economic engines for our countries, and the mutual benefits of a strong and fair economic partnership between all three countries are clear. Our free and fair trade partnership is critical to building globally competitive communities and a prosperous future.”

Provincial and territorial premiers also have urged parliamentarians to ratify the deal quickly.

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