September 12, 2018 1:54 pm
Updated: September 12, 2018 6:35 pm

Couillard ready to go to court if NAFTA deal is unsatisfactory to Quebec farmers

Dairy cows are seen at a farm in Quebec.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
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Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard said Wednesday he’ll consider going to court to block or delay the adoption of a new NAFTA if the deal is unsatisfactory to Quebec farmers.

Speaking in Montreal, Couillard said the province won’t accept an agreement that doesn’t meet the approval of dairy producers, who are against dismantling of the supply management system that regulates the price of dairy, eggs and poultry.

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READ MORE: Could dairy market access be the ‘bargaining chip’ Canada needs to lock in new NAFTA deal?

He added he won’t present any deal to the legislature that the agricultural sector opposes.

“I will not accept something that they would not accept,” he said at an election campaign event where he unveiled his party’s financial framework.

“I would fight it, I would not submit the text to the national assembly if that happens.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland returned to Washington on Tuesday to resume negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement after two weeks of intense negotiations ended last week without a deal.

Freeland said following the meeting that the talks were progressing in good faith and had reached a point where discussing them face to face with the prime minister was “absolutely essential.”

WATCH BELOW: Couillard speaks with Trudeau about NAFTA

On Wednesday, Couillard said he has so far received no indications the Trudeau government is planning to bend to American demands.

But he said he wants all of Canada to know he’s ready to fight if that position changes.

READ MORE: Got milk (farmers)? Here’s how many could be at risk if NAFTA boosts U.S. dairy market access

“Am I ready to postpone, or even be a negative factor? Yes, because I want to work and speak for our dairy producers and our farms,” he said.

Nearly half of Canada’s dairy farms are located in Quebec and all of the major political party leaders have promised to stand up for supply management if elected.

Earlier this week, former prime minister Brian Mulroney said he didn’t see how Canada can reach a deal without some flexibility on the issue.

WATCH BELOW: Is Canada’s supply management system the cause of disappearing dairy farms in U.S.?

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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