Democrats ‘com­mit­ted’ to pass­ing trade deal: law­maker

One con­cern is get­ting tougher labour stan­dards in Mex­ico in the pact

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Canada & World - BRUCE CAM­PION-SMITH TORONTO STAR

OT­TAWA — A se­nior U.S. Demo­crat law­maker told Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau on Wed­nes­day that rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the new North Amer­i­can free trade deal is a pri­or­ity for his party, a com­mit­ment that could speed Cana­dian ap­proval.

Trudeau and For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land met with Demo­crat Rep. Richard Neal, chair of the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ways and means com­mit­tee, and fel­low com­mit­tee mem­bers Democrats Suzan DelBene and Bren­dan Boyle and Re­pub­li­can Drew Fer­gu­son.

That com­mit­tee will play a key role on Capi­tol Hill in the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the new trade agree­ment.

“We want to see this im­ple­mented. The re­newal is very im­por­tant to the United States,” said Neal, as the del­e­ga­tion from the United States met with Trudeau on Par­lia­ment Hill.

“I can tell you with all cer­tainty that Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi is com­mit­ted to get­ting to yes,” Neal said.

The up­dated trade deal be­tween Canada, the United States and Mex­ico was signed last Novem­ber but has yet to be rat­i­fied by the United States amid con­cerns among Democrats about sev­eral el­e­ments of the ne­go­ti­ated pact, in­clud­ing as­sur­ances that mea­sures meant to boost labour pro­tec­tions in Mex­ico will ac­tu­ally be im­ple­mented.

Trudeau said that the gov­ern­ment has been work­ing closely with Democrats and Repub­li­cans for the past months to get to a “good place where we have the right deal for Canada, for the United States and for Mex­ico.

“There have been a lot of good con­ver­sa­tions in­ter­nally with the United States and Canada has been there to pro­vide ad­vice and feed­back and re­flec­tion as we move for­ward,” the prime min­is­ter said.

“It is a plea­sure to see the pos­i­tive mo­men­tum that seems to be hap­pen­ing on this re­newal of this very im­por­tant trade deal.”

In a state­ment ahead of the meet­ing, Neal’s of­fice said he would rais­ing is­sues re­lated to how the three coun­tries can en­sure the new deal “will serve the in­ter­ests of North Amer­i­can work­ers, our shared en­vi­ron­ment, the health of our peo­ple, and the com­pet­i­tive­ness of our economies.”

One con­cern for Democrats is im­ple­ment­ing tougher labour stan­dards in Mex­ico sought by the U.S. and Canada to level the play­ing field with their own labour mar­kets.

That is­sue was on the agenda for Wed­nes­day’s dis­cus­sions, that in­cluded a work­ing lunch hosted by Free­land.

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