Labour, environment standards key to getting USMCA through

Canada’s Ambassador David MacNaughton explained key standards Monday night

Canada’s pressure to include “soft things” like labour standards in the new North American free-trade treaty will help secure critical support for the deal from Democrats in the United States Congress, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S. says.

Now that the leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico have signed the agreement, it needs ratification from legislators in all three countries before taking effect. Democrats will get control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January and some won’t eagerly support a treaty President Donald Trump’s representative Robert Lighthizer negotiated.

But Canada’s Ambassador David MacNaughton said Monday that Lighthizer’s support was key to including measures on the environment, labour standards, and a wage floor, all of which should appeal to Democratic Party critics.

“It helped us get to where we are,” MacNaughton said at a Public Policy Forum dinner in Ottawa.

Nevertheless, Canada isn’t assuming ratification will be easy. MacNaughton said Canadian diplomats will rev up their machine to lobby members of Congress for their support.

And there remains the matter of crippling tariffs on steel and aluminum the Trump administration imposed on imports from Canada, ostensibly for national-security reasons, while the treaty negotiations were on.

“We’re not going to celebrate with these tariffs hanging over our heads,” MacNaughton said.

RELATED: Canada has ‘high level of confidence’ USMCA will be ratified in U.S.: Morneau

The ambassador said he’s pleased that a side letter to the treaty assures Canada that no similar tariffs can be applied to cars made in Canada and exported to the United States. That letter is already in effect, he said.

At a separate event in New York, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Canada takes seriously comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump about withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement, the older treaty the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is to replace.

On Saturday, Trump told reporters he planned to give formal notice of his intentions to withdraw from NAFTA, which would give American lawmakers six months to approve the USMCA or have no free-trade pact with Canada and Mexico. It’s widely seen as a pressure tactic to keep legislators from dawdling.

“We take everything seriously,” Morneau said when asked whether he took the president’s comments at face value. “While we’ll have to watch and ensure we get through this next stage, we have a high level of confidence that’s achievable.”

Morneau made the comments at an event co-hosted by Politico and the Canadian consulate in New York.

RELATED: Trump to kill old NAFTA to push Congress to approve USMCA

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s senior economic adviser, said he and Trump hadn’t spoken in detail about the president’s thinking.

“I think he’s trying to light a fire under Congress — that’s my guess, my hunch,” Kudlow told a conference call with reporters.

“The ceremonies, the signing — the president’s very happy with all of that. Everybody showed up. Trudeau showed up and so forth. And we’re rolling. Congress, on the other hand, is not rolling, and I think President Trump’s intent here was to light a fire under Congress.”

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

Salmon Arm Pride Project festival planned for October

Exhibition designed to bring awareness to LGBTQ2S+ issues through the arts

Need for housing in Salmon Arm climbs while units being constructed

More demand for temporary shelter and much earlier than in 2019

Okanagan College names two new board members

Andrea Alexander and JoAnn Fowler have been appointed for one-year terms to the board

Morning Start: Hawaiian Pizza is Canadian

Your morning start for Monday, Sept. 28, 2020

Okanagan whisky lottery adds new twists

Winners of Okanagan Spirits’ Laird of Fintry lottery announced in four batches beginning Sept. 28

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Mystery solved on who put up blockade on Okanagan road

Land owner says trespassing with quads and motorcycles threatens wildlife and old growth trees

Editorial: Racism spans our shared history of pandemics

Guideline for naming of viruses designed to not offend cultural groups

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Lake Country’s top paid employee retires

Deputy CAO moves up the ranks to fill the position

Okanagan woman shocked by return of letter in a bottle, after 31 years

‘I honestly didn’t think it would get past the beaver pond.’

Kelowna truck driver named ‘Highway Angel’

Donna Wright called 911 after stumbling upon a semi-truck rollover on Highway 1 in June

B.C. marriage annulled because husband was unable to have sex with wife

Husband did not disclose any sexual health concerns to his wife prior to marriage

Most Read