OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has praised the USMCA, the new trade deal Canada has signed with the U.S. and Mexico, though not without criticism at home.
Trudeau spoke with reporters, along with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland after landing the major trade breakthrough last night, just before a U.S.-imposed deadline.
After 14 months of tough negotiations, the prime minister framed this agreement as a victory.
“It will be good for Canadian workers, good for Canadian business, and good for Canadian families,” said Trudeau.
He said this deal — which will revamp the old NAFTA — protects supply management, staves off auto tariffs, and maintains fair hearings in any disputes with our large neighbour to the south.
But the opposition parties are questioning that. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says, to him, the Liberals appear to have caved to demands from the Trump administration.
“The Prime Minister has made major concessions on key areas,” Scheer says.
“He’s made concessions on dairy, he’s made concessions on auto quotas and he’s made concessions on pharmaceuticals, meaning that Canadian patients will have to pay higher drug costs. Now we would have hoped that after making all those concession, we would be able to see a gain on an important issue like ‘Buy American.'”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh elaborates on Andrew Scheer’s points and says the costs of prescription drugs will go up under the new agreement.
“That mans people suffering from chronic illnesses, like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease will see an increase in the cost of medication.”
Canadian dairy farmers find little to praise in new trade deal
Dairy farmers, too, are angry with the concessions made to grant the US more access to our market. In a news release, Dairy Farmers of Canada, say they’re “deeply disappointed” about Canada’s concessions in new deal.
“The announced concessions on dairy in the new USMCA deal demonstrates once again that the Canadian government is willing to sacrifice our domestic dairy production when it comes time to make a deal,” Pierre Lampron, the lobby group’s president says.
“The government has said repeatedly that it values a strong and vibrant dairy sector – they have once again put that in jeopardy by giving away more concessions.”
After trade deals with the Euro bloc and Pacific Asian countries in the last two years, Canada’s dairy lobby says the new North American deal weakens the domestic dairy sector.
“USMCA follows two previous trade agreements in which access to the Canadian dairy market was granted, CETA and the CPTPP, which sacrificed the equivalent of a quarter of a billion dollars annually in dairy production to industries in other countries,” the release adds.
Freeland said they will be compensated for their losses.
“That is the fair thing to do,” said Freeland.
She said the amount and type of compensation will be worked out in coming months.
Trudeau said the USMCA is successful in maintaining fairness and balance between Canada and the U.S., a trading partner 10 times its size.
Despite his praise for the deal, he cautioned that we are not at the finish line yet, as the agreement still needs to be ratified by all three countries.
Both Freeland and Trudeau said it’s important to remember that when the negotiations began over a year ago the U.S. aim was to dismantle supply management entirely, and Canada did not let that happen.
Trudeau noticeably did not mention U.S. President Donald Trump in his opening remarks, saying only in answer to a direct question that the relationship with the president has been challenging during the course of negotiations.