Liberals willing to recall Parliament to ratify deal
By Jonathan Martin
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Washington today for talks with President Donald Trump.
The two heads of state are discussing the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This trade deal will replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement once it’s ratified by the legislatures in all three countries.
USMCA is at second reading before the Canadian House of Commons. The government’s goal is to move “in tandem” with the U.S. in the ratification process, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, said in May.
“Canadian farmers rely on stable markets to succeed and ratifying the CUSMA will allow us to capitalize on further opportunities for growth with our closest trading partners,” said Jeff Nielsen, chairman of Grain Growers of Canada in a Wednesday release. “We need tariff-free access for our export commodities as soon as possible.”
Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, said that an ongoing concern exists the deal may not be ratified with both Canadian and American federal elections on the horizon. He spoke to congressional democrats about his concerns last week.
“We want to make sure that the American side (understands) that we don’t want this process to get caught up in the politics of (our) election,” he told Global in a Sunday interview. “Worse, we might have to open it up after the fact.”
The Liberal government is willing to recall Parliament this summer to ratify USMCA, the Canadian Press reported using an anonymous source. All business of the House of Commons and Senate is terminated when a parliamentary session ends, so if CUSMA isn’t ratified by mid-September, it will “die on the order paper.”
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House speaker, has been blocking the House from taking up legislation to approve the trade pact for months. As speaker, Pelosi has control over House proceedings and doesn’t have to bring the deal up for a vote. She has been the principle obstacle for USCMA’s U.S. ratification, citing concerns over enforcement tools, labor and environmental protections and provisions on pharmaceuticals.