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Mulroney to meet with Trudeau & Liberal cabinet committee to talk NAFTA, April 6

Former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney will be discussing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and key cabinet ministers at a Canada-US cabinet committee meeting on Thursday.

CTV reports, “Mulroney will have a seat at the table at an upcoming Liberal cabinet meeting to discuss NAFTA, the pivotal deal he helped negotiate more than 20 years ago. CTV News has learned that Mulroney accepted an invitation to meet with Trudeau and the Canada-U.S. cabinet committee for the important meeting Thursday morning. The discussion is expected to centre around the future of NAFTA — a trade agreement that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to renegotiate.”

The committee is chaired by Marc Garneau (Transport minister), co-chaired by Ralph Goodale (Public Safety minister), and includes Jim Carr (Natural Resources minister), François-Philippe Champagne (Trade minister), Chrystia Freeland (Foreign Affairs minister), Catherine McKenna (Environment minister) and several other cabinet ministers.

CTV adds, “Other participants at the Thursday meeting include Derek Burney, the former Canadian ambassador to Washington who helped negotiate NAFTA, and current Canadian ambassador to Washington David MacNaughton.”

Postmedia Network columnist Tom Parkin has commented, “Trudeau has provided very little information about Mulroney’s role [in the renegotiation of NAFTA]. Canadians don’t know if Mulroney has been cleared by the [Prime Minister] or Cabinet to speak for Canada. We don’t know his objectives. We don’t know his sources of income. What security and conflict screening has been done. What confidential business information is being shared with him. [Despite] Mulroney [admitting] to a federal judicial inquiry to receiving $225,000 in cash – in $1000 bills, apparently – from Karlheinz Schreiber, an arms trader who promoted sales of Airbus aircraft … Trudeau has put Mulroney in a place of high trust – amid the billionaires, NAFTA tweaks and US President.”

On March 31, The Globe and Mail reported, “A draft eight-page letter to Congress from acting United States Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn outlines more than 40 negotiating objectives the White House is seeking as the U.S. prepares to reopen NAFTA in talks with Canada and Mexico. The revisions sought go far beyond the modest ‘tweak’ for Canada that Mr. Trump promised when he received Trudeau in Washington [in February].”

Formal talks are expected to begin this summer or fall.

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson says, “I think the renegotiation—with or without Mexico—will take at least a year, probably 19 months. After that we have to go for ratification, which adds on another year plus. My guess is that NAFTA, or whatever we call it, doesn’t get wrapped up until spring or summer 2019, meaning it will be front and centre in our October 2019 election.”

To tell Prime Minister Trudeau that the renegotiation of NAFTA cannot be another backroom deal — that public consultations are required as well as transparency and accountability throughout the entirety of the process — please send him a message through this action alert.

The Council of Canadians argues that NAFTA has had a negative impact on workers and the environment in all three countries.

In his FTA at 25, NAFTA at 20 overview, our friend and ally Bruce Campbell has highlighted, “Contrary to assurances given Canadians prior to the FTA/NAFTA, big business lobbied hard to reduce both program spending and taxes in the name of competitiveness. Unemployment insurance, health and education transfers, social assistance and housing programs etc. were ‘harmonized downward’ toward US levels. Governments, either willingly or grudgingly, reduced taxes. …The FTA/NAFTA failed to meet the fundamental test of any major policy initiative—to better the lives of its citizens.”