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