Tories trash Trudeau trade tactics on NAFTA in preview of fall priorities

Click to play video: 'Conservatives slam Liberals on handling of NAFTA' Conservatives slam Liberals on handling of NAFTA
WATCH ABOVE: Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen told reporters Monday morning that the prime minister’s trade approach has only resulted so far in ticking off Canada’s trading partners – Sep 17, 2018

Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen took Justin Trudeau to task on Monday for what she described as his failures to get a NAFTA deal done.

In a press conference outlining the Conservative priorities for the fall parliamentary sitting, Bergen said the party planned to focus its criticism on trade and the Liberal fiscal record. She said that will include things like nationalizing the Trans Mountain pipeline and insisting on including progressive chapters on gender rights, labour rights and the environment in the trade negotiations it has pursued so far.

READ MORE: Gun reform, pay equity, election protection set to dominate political agenda as Parliament Hill returns

“What the prime minister had done in these trade negotiations is tick people off,” Bergen said of NAFTA.

“We all understand Trump can be who he is but the prime minister hasn’t helped things.”

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WATCH BELOW: Trudeau says on NAFTA, ‘We’ve seen multiple deadlines’ from Trump government

Click to play video: 'Trudeau on NAFTA: ‘We’ve seen multiple deadlines’ from Trump government' Trudeau on NAFTA: ‘We’ve seen multiple deadlines’ from Trump government
Trudeau on NAFTA: ‘We’ve seen multiple deadlines’ from Trump government – Sep 13, 2018

Bergen was asked what, specifically, the Conservatives would have done differently if they were in charge of the negotiations.

“We certainly wouldn’t have gone in and lectured on things like gender rights and the environment,” she said.

READ MORE: Democrats would prefer Canadian labour chapter in new NAFTA

The progressive chapters the prime minister has been pursuing include setting up stronger labour protections and measures to strengthen gender equality, as well as Indigenous rights.

Both the Canadian Press and the National Post quoted multiple officials from the American administration earlier this year as saying those progressive chapters are irritants for the United States during the current NAFTA negotiations.

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Trudeau insists including such chapters are critical to addressing some of the root economic fears and instability driving global populist movements.

WATCH BELOW: Trans-Pacific Partnership: a backup plan if NAFTA fails

Click to play video: 'Trans-Pacific Partnership: a backup plan if NAFTA fails' Trans-Pacific Partnership: a backup plan if NAFTA fails
Trans-Pacific Partnership: a backup plan if NAFTA fails – Nov 3, 2017

Trade is expected to be a major topic of debate as Parliament resumes for its fall sitting.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is scheduled to be debated starting at noon on Monday.

READ MORE: Amidst Trump trade dispute, Canada set to table bill to ratify Trans Pacific Partnership

Stalled NAFTA talks and the use of tariffs as a pressure tactic by U.S President Donald Trump in recent months have prompted significant discussion about the need for Canada to diversify its trading partners and become less reliant on the Americans.

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The legislation coming before MPs for debate now will ratify the 10-member free trade agreement with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Trump yanked the U.S. out of the original version of that deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, shortly after coming into office.

Canada joined negotiations towards the now-defunct Trans Pacific Partnership under the former Conservative government.

Bergen said the deal overall remains a “net benefit” for Canadians.

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