Trump se­ri­ous about leav­ing NAFTA: Harper

Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — WASHINGTON

Stephen Harper says he be­lieves Don­ald Trump is gen­uinely will­ing to pull the plug on the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

The for­mer prime min­is­ter is in Washington to dis­cuss the fate of the on­go­ing trade ne­go­ti­a­tions, mak­ing rare pub­lic com­ments on a cur­rent po­lit­i­cal is­sue.

And he hap­pened to be do­ing so at the very mo­ment his suc­ces­sor Justin Trudeau was a few blocks away at the White House, dis­cussing the same is­sue with the U.S. pres­i­dent.

The for­mer Con­ser­va­tive leader, who’s known as an ar­dent free trader, says pow­er­ful anti-trade forces that pre­date Trump’s pres­i­dency are at play in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety and aren’t going away any­time soon.

Harper says he un­der­stands the frus­tra­tion: he de­scribed his an­noy­ance at spend­ing his 50th birth­day sign­ing a bailout pack­age for Gen­eral Mo­tors Canada, only to see the auto gi­ant move jobs out of the coun­try.

He says he is ad­vis­ing companies to start plan­ning for the pos­si­bil­ity of a world with­out NAFTA.

On the other hand, Newt Gin­grich — a Trump ally who was speak­ing on the same panel — is sound­ing a more op­ti­mistic note.

The for­mer House speaker and friend of the pres­i­dent says a deal will even­tu­ally be reached, after long and dif­fi­cult ne­go­ti­a­tions.

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