The Canadian government is taking its summer retreat as a chance to ponder ramifications of the US presidential election, with trade ties among the discussion points.
A Bloomberg news reports on a quarterly retreat in Sudbury, Ontario, held by Trudeau and his ministers on Sunday and Monday. Closed-door meetings to be held include a presentation on Canada-US relations led by the Canadian ambassador to Washington, David MacNaughton, and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, according to Trudeau spokesman Cameron Ahmad. Further discussion on US trade will be held during a “fireside chat”, Ahmad says.
Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have both expressed opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the run-up to the US presidential election. Conflict with regards to trade in softwood lumber is also foreseen.
“Everyone’s interested in the anti-trade rhetoric that’s going on with the United States,” MacNaughton said in an interview. “You can’t have the Bernie Sanders phenomenon, the Donald Trump phenomenon, Hillary Clinton saying the things that she’s saying, without realizing that there’s something going on, right? It’s a challenge for us.”
Trudeau has said he’s strongly pro-trade but is neither endorsing nor rejecting the TPP, a deal agreed to by his predecessor. Trudeau and President Barack Obama committed in June to work toward a new softwood lumber pact after the previous deal expired in 2015, while acknowledging they remained far apart on key issues. Canadian softwood exports have increased during a one-year tariff grace period that expires in October.
With brewing protectionist sentiment discouraging pro-trade members of the US congress from publicly backing trade deals, the onus is falling more on Canada to promote the benefits of continued, and even expanded, trade. “[T]he only way we can deal with this is to continue to try and talk to Americans about how trade with Canada is not just a benefit to Canada, it’s a benefit to the US,” MacNaughton said.
One of the Trudeau cabinet meeting’s major focuses will be “on relationships – relationships with the provinces, relationships with the United States and of course relationships with indigenous peoples,” the prime minister said in a brief statement at the start of the gathering.
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