Am­brose, ex-Tory min­is­ter Moore on coun­cil to ad­vise Lib­eral gov­ern­ment on NAFTA

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

While Lib­er­als and Con­ser­va­tives trade ac­cu­sa­tions that they’re hurt­ing Canada’s po­si­tion in the im­mi­nent rene­go­ti­a­tion of NAFTA, the Trudeau gov­ern­ment has tapped the Tories’ for­mer in­terim leader, Rona Am­brose, to help ad­vise on the tri­lat­eral trade deal.

Am­brose is one of 13 mem­bers of a newly cre­ated ad­vi­sory coun­cil on the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, an­nounced Wed­nes­day by For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land.

Other mem­bers in­clude James Moore, a for­mer min­is­ter in the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment, and Brian Topp, a veteran NDP strate­gist, one-time NDP lead­er­ship con­tender and for­mer chief of staff to Al­berta’s NDP pre­mier, Rachel Not­ley.

The mem­ber­ship is de­signed to demon­strate that the gov­ern­ment is tak­ing a uni­fied, non-par­ti­san, Team Canada ap­proach to the ne­go­ti­a­tions, which are set to start Aug. 16.

The coun­cil also in­cludes rep­re­sen­ta­tives of var­i­ous groups that have the most at stake in the ne­go­ti­a­tions, among them, Cana­dian Labour Congress pres­i­dent Has­san Yus­suff; Linda Hasen­fratz, CEO of au­to­mo­tive parts man­u­fac­turer Li­na­mar Corp., and Mar­cel Groleau, pres­i­dent of Que­bec’s union of agri­cul­tural pro­duc­ers.

Free­land also an­nounced Wed­nes­day the ap­point­ment of one of Canada’s fore­most trade ex­perts, Kirsten Hill­man, as deputy am­bas­sador to the United States, and three new trade­savvy con­suls gen­eral to be lo­cated in At­lanta, Seat­tle and San Fran­cisco.

“With the ex­pan­sion of our con­sular pres­ence in the United States and the cre­ation of the NAFTA coun­cil, we are fur­ther­ing Canada’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to pro­mote Cana­dian in­ter­ests and val­ues in our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with our main eco­nomic part­ner,’’ Free­land said in a writ­ten

state­ment.

Other mem­bers of the coun­cil in­clude Perry Bel­le­garde, na­tional chief of the Assem­bly of First Na­tions, An­nette Ver­schuren, for­mer pres­i­dent of Home De­pot, and Phyl­lis Yaffe, for­mer chair of Cine­plex En­ter­tain­ment and CEO of Al­liance At­lantis who is cur­rently serv­ing as Canada’s con­sul gen­eral in New York City.

The in­clu­sion of Am­brose, who re­tired from pol­i­tics in May, comes amid a squab­ble between Lib­er­als and Con­ser­va­tives over which party has done the most dam­age to Canada’s po­si­tion in the U.S. just as NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions are about to begin.

The Lib­er­als have ac­cused the Tories of un­der­min­ing Canada by sav­aging Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau in the Amer­i­can me­dia over his de­ci­sion to com­pen­sate Omar Khadr, a Cana­dian ci­ti­zen who was im­pris­oned and tor­tured at the no­to­ri­ous U.S. de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity in Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba, af­ter al­legedly killing an Amer­i­can sol­dier dur­ing a fire­fight in Afghanistan when he was just 15 years old.

Trudeau him­self has chided the Con­ser­va­tives for cam­paign­ing in the U.S. against the

Khadr pay­ment.

“When I deal with the United States, I leave the do­mes­tic squab­bles at home. Other par­ties don’t seem to have that rule, but I think it’s one Cana­di­ans ap­pre­ci­ate,’’ he said last month.

Newly minted Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer has scoffed at sug­ges­tions the cross­bor­der anti-Khadr cam­paign will rile Amer­i­cans against Canada just as NAFTA talks get un­der­way.

And the Tories have, in turn, ac­cused Trudeau of hurt­ing Canada’s po­si­tion by giv­ing an in­ter­view to Rolling Stone mag­a­zine, which fea­tured a cover photo of the prime min­is­ter last week with the cap­tion “Why can’t he be our pres­i­dent?’’ Con­ser­va­tives have said the ar­ti­cle amounts to pok­ing mercurial Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in the eye.

“Why does 1/8Mr. Trudeau 3/8 need to do this right now, when it does put in dan­ger the di­rec­tion and the com­mence­ment of th­ese ne­go­ti­a­tions?’’ deputy Con­ser­va­tive leader Lisa Raitt told the Globe and Mail.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice has called that ac­cu­sa­tion “ab­surd.’’

CP PHOTO

Con­ser­va­tive In­terim leader Rona Am­brose speaks in Ot­tawa on Tues­day May 16, 2017. The Trudeau gov­ern­ment has tapped for­mer in­terim Con­ser­va­tive leader Am­brose to give ad­vice on the im­mi­nent rene­go­ti­a­tion of the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

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