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Couillard warns against softening stance on supply management in NAFTA talks

In this file photo, Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard speaks to candidates in preparation for the general election. Couillard warns against giving in to American demands surrounding Canada's supply management system during NAFTA talks. Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018.
In this file photo, Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard speaks to candidates in preparation for the general election. Couillard warns against giving in to American demands surrounding Canada's supply management system during NAFTA talks. Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard is warning there would be “serious political consequences” to allowing any further dismantling of Canada’s supply management system in order to strike a NAFTA deal.

When asked on the campaign trail Wednesday how far he would go to protect supply management, Couillard borrowed a phrase made famous by former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and answered, “Just watch me.”

WATCH: Justin Trudeau says position on supply management has not changed despite U.S.-Mexico deal

Justin Trudeau says position on supply management has not changed despite U.S.-Mexico deal
Justin Trudeau says position on supply management has not changed despite U.S.-Mexico deal

Couillard told reporters in Rivière-du-Loup that Quebec is opposed to any new concessions when it comes to the system that regulates dairy, eggs and poultry.

The Globe and Mail reported late Tuesday that Ottawa was prepared to make concessions to Washington on Canada’s dairy market.

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READ MORE: Canadian dairy Saputo criticizes supply management system, siding with U.S. in ongoing dispute

Without mentioning the current Trudeau government directly, Couillard suggested the country’s second-largest province will make its disapproval heard if Canada gives in to American demands and grants greater access to its dairy market during tough NAFTA renegotiation talks.

Couillard also reversed an earlier position as he opened the door to co-operating with other political leaders on the issue.

READ MORE: Quebec party leaders should sign joint NAFTA declaration: PQ leader

While refusing to participate in a public event with other party leaders in support of supply management, he said Wednesday he’s willing to sign a document to that effect created by Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée once he’s had the chance to study it.

Quebecers head to the polls Oct. 1.