Canada Must Negotiate NAFTA from a Position of Strength

 

The restoration of Canada’s reputation abroad was one of the great achievements of the last two Conservative governments under Harper and Mulroney. Once again, Canada would stand with our allies for security at home and play a role in global security commensurate with our size, abilities and values as a nation. Canada would not look the other way when our allies were attacked or when instability overseas was threatening our security in North America.

Unfortunately, the Trudeau Liberals have brought us back to the failed era of Liberal foreign policy – appeasing dictators, abandoning our friends, and pursuing the myth of Canada as an “honest broker” without interests in the world. We must restore Canada’s role as a dependable ally and principled voice for freedom and democracy around the world.

To do so, I’ll concentrate on acting through NATO and other organizations that reflect our values to get things done in the world. I will also work with our allies to modernize and improve the performance and international governance of multi-lateral organizations in which Canada is involved.

Of great importance today, I will promote trade by negotiating with the United States from a position of strength President Trump will respect. With NAFTA negotiations triggered this week, I am more committed than ever to standing up for hard working Canadians and the unique needs of each of our industries. There has been much discussion about the supply management regulatory structure for dairy and poultry products that Canada supported throughout USFTA and NAFTA negotiations.

While the slow deregulation of agriculture must continue in a responsible manner, supply management is not the cause of any market specific issues currently facing the United States. In fact, some of the over-supply problems facing the U.S. marketplace demonstrate that a one size fits all approach to agricultural commodities does not always work. In my work on the CETA negotiations with Minister Ed Fast, we proved that Canada can secure new markets and better prices for exporting producers without sacrificing the thousands of families involved in supply managed sectors.

Maxime Bernier has compared family farms to cartels like OPEC, demonstrating a profound lack of understanding of agriculture and making farming families feel like political props. Andrew Scheer recently advocated for country of origin labeling on gasoline, a policy that will only complicate our trade relationship with the United States since the last Conservative government fought such labelling in agriculture.

Now is the time for a leader who understands trade and agriculture, and is willing to fight for Canadian interests and the families that depend on fair dealing with our friends and trading partners. With private sector experience as a lawyer on international trade matters, and experience negotiating the CETA within government, I am that leader.

Those trade talks also must include promoting closer economic and diplomatic ties between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom (CANZUK). I believe in the development of a trade and security pact, including the freedom to live, work, and invest in these countries. With Brexit upon us, Canada must launch free trade talks with the United Kingdom as soon as possible, as they are one of our longest and closest partners.

We already have a security agreement with CANZUK countries and the United States, called Five Eyes. Building upon that pact to promote closer diplomatic and trade agreements is the natural next step for our people and our economies. It will also help further diversify Canada’s trade relationships so we are not as dependent upon NAFTA. Becoming less dependent on the United States for trade will help us to renegotiate NAFTA from a position of strength. As the next Conservative Leader in Canada, I will make strengthening our international trade a top priority.

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