June 6, 2018 7:42 pm

Andrew Scheer rejects one-on-one trade talks as long as NAFTA can be saved

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer responds to a question during a news conference in Montreal on April 19, 2018.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says as long as there is a possibility to save NAFTA that should be Canada’s priority.

Speaking to reporters following the weekly Conservative caucus meeting, Scheer didn’t outright reject the notion of a one-on-one trade deal with the United States, but said for the time being, saving NAFTA is still plausible and should be Canada’s focus.

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He also says he favours a deal without a sunset clause, noting deals with longevity are usually better.

Scheer’s positions largely echo the stance the governing Liberals are taking on the matter with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outright rejecting a one-on-one trade talk with the U.S. and drawing a line in the sand with the U.S. over the idea of a five-year sunset clause on a new NAFTA deal.

Trudeau was ready to fly to Washington to get final details settled on NAFTA last week, but says Vice-President Mike Pence told him the U.S. would only agree to such a meeting if Canada accepted a sunset clause.

Scheer is critical of Trudeau for waiting a month to implement import tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum in retaliation for the tariffs Trump imposed June 1 on Canada, saying Canadian industry is hurting already and the funds raised by import levies on U.S. products will help mitigate that pain.

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