June 19, 2019 1:36 pm
Updated: June 19, 2019 10:11 pm

Democrats won’t pass trade deal if it’s just ‘NAFTA with sugar on top’: Pelosi

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Democrats in the United States are reluctant to ratify the new trade deal between Canada, the United States, and Mexico without adding stronger protections to the pact, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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Pelosi cited several concerns with the new deal in remarks at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor Wednesday morning. She says the Democrat-controlled House will not take up legislation to ratify the deal until it’s tweaked to address her concerns, which include issues with enforcement tools, labour reforms in Mexico, environmental protections and provisions on pharmaceuticals.

The Speaker of the House said the new deal, dubbed USMCA or CUSMA, cannot simply be “NAFTA with sugar on top.”

WATCH: Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada won’t ratify CUSMA until the U.S. and Mexico are ready.

All three countries must ratify the deal before it can take effect.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to press Pelosi on the issue Thursday when he’s due to visit Washington for a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. Trudeau is trying to push the deal through ahead of a federal election in October that could upset the balance of power in Parliament.

READ MORE: Trudeau to discuss China and G20 summit with Trump on visit to Washington

U.S. trade chief Robert Lighthizer promised earlier this week to work with Democrats to address their concerns and get the deal passed.

Lighthizer told Congress on Wednesday that the new trade deal has stronger enforcement provisions than the old NAFTA, including improved labour rights in Mexico. However, he also said he’d be open to making the deal stronger.

READ MORE: Trump’s trade czar promises to work with Democrats to pass new NAFTA

Pelosi has not provided a timetable for addressing the deal in the lower house of Congress, where it must be passed into law before it can take effect.

Trudeau’s government tabled draft CUSMA legislation in the House of Commons on May 29, but Canada is waiting to pass the bill in tandem with the U.S.

WATCH: Pelosi attacks Mitch McConnell’s record

Parliament is scheduled to start its summer recess on June 21 and is not expected to sit again until after the federal election.

Canada is still trying to keep in step with the U.S. on ratifying the deal, Trudeau said Wednesday. He added that he has the ability to recall Parliament this summer if needed to pass the necessary legislation.

WATCH: Trudeau tables legislation to ratify CUSMA

Mexico started the ratification process on May 30, and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has promised to hold an extraordinary session of the Senate to get it passed.

With files from Reuters, The Associated Press, and The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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