NAFTA talks: Freeland says Canada has a ‘talent for compromise,’ American officials don’t agree
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to reporters Tuesday, and reinforced the possibility of Canada walking away from NAFTA if a satisfactory deal can’t be reached.
“That’s not rhetoric,” Freeland told reporters on the possibility of walking away. “As the prime minister had said very clearly, our government is committed to getting a good deal for Canadians, and we absolutely believe that no deal is better than a bad deal.”
WATCH: Freeland ‘not aware’ of threat letter from Republican politician over NAFTA
She added that any negotiator who goes into a negotiation intent on making a deal at any price, “will be forced to pay the maximum price for that deal.”
Freeland ended on a commonly made point, saying that “one of Canada’s national characteristics is a talent for compromise.”
However, some American officials tell a different story. The U.S. website Politico quoted House majority whip Steve Scalise, warning Canada about the “growing frustration” in Congress with what he calls Canadian officials’ “negotiating tactics.”
Scalise, who represents the state of Louisiana, added that the Canadian government does not seem ready or willing to “make any concessions” necessary to reach what the statement describes as “a fair and high-standard agreement.”
Freeland had not seen the statement when asked about it prior to question period.
“That is not something I’m aware of. I have not received any such letter … From the outset of these modernization initiatives, Canada has been extremely co-operative.”
She added that the negotiating atmosphere is one of “good faith.”
WATCH: Canada and U.S. are ‘moving closer’ to deal on NAFTA: Trudeau
“The atmosphere has been good, there is good will and good faith on both sides,” she said before ending the press conference.
Freeland says trade officials have been meeting in Washington since last Thursday, continuing what the minister described as “intensive” talks aimed at reaching a deal.
High-level meetings are set to resume this week in Washington in an effort to bring Canada into a revised North American free trade agreement.
Those talks are being held under a Sept. 30 deadline for getting the text of an agreement to the U.S. Congress.
The renewed effort comes as the opposition Conservatives criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the tactics his government has been using to get a NAFTA deal done.
Tory House Leader Candice Bergen says her party would not have “lectured” the other parties on issues such as gender rights and the environment.
— With files from the Canadian Press.
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