Trudeau weighs reintroducing NAFTA ratification bill before holiday break

Trudeau says he’s assured Trump, Obrador they’ll proceed with CUSMA ratification ‘as quickly as we can’
WATCH: Trudeau says he's assured Trump, Obrador they'll proceed with CUSMA ratification 'as quickly as we can'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is currently weighing whether to reintroduce a bill to ratify the CUSMA trade deal before the holidays.

But no decision has yet been reached even as the parliamentary calendar ticks down to when MPs depart for their winter break at the end of this week.

READ MORE: Here’s what’s going to change with the newly signed CUSMA trade pact

“That’s a decision for the House leader to take,” said Trudeau in a scrum with reporters on Wednesday.

“We’re looking at that right now. We’re looking at the remaining days in the calendar, but I have assured both the president of the United States and the president of Mexico personally that we will proceed with ratification as quickly as we can.”

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CUSMA ratification a ‘national priority for Canada’: Freeland
CUSMA ratification a ‘national priority for Canada’: Freeland

Throughout the process of waiting for the Americans to reach consensus on ratification through Congress, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland — speaking formerly as foreign affairs minister — has stressed the need to take steps towards ratification “in tandem” with the U.S.

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday after her return from Mexico City, where the updated deal was signed on Tuesday, Freeland said the delicacy of the situation south of the border required that approach but now, the goal is to get the deal ratified as quickly as possible.

“I clearly understood that the ratification process before the protocol we signed yesterday was extremely delicate and very complex and for that reason, based on my own judgement, I felt it was better for Canada to work in tandem with the United States,” she said.

“The Americans have now reached an agreement between the two parties and this is an agreement that is very positive for Canada and that’s why I think that now is the time for Canada to move forward with ratification.”

She noted though that ratification is not something the Liberals can do on their own given the minority government and that the opposition parties have been offered briefings on the updated deal.

Canada, U.S., Mexico finally sign revised NAFTA
Canada, U.S., Mexico finally sign revised NAFTA

Freeland and Trudeau spoke with the premiers about CUSMA on Wednesday. Trudeau promised “continued engagement” with provincial leaders as the deal is ratified and implemented, according to a statement from his office.

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On Tuesday, Democrats in the United States finally agreed to ratify the renegotiated NAFTA trade deal reached by the U.S., Canada and Mexico last year.

Their support was contingent on several tweaks to the agreement, including stronger enforcement mechanisms to monitor labour reforms in Mexico and cutting the length of time before expensive biologic drugs can face competition from cheaper generics.

READ MORE: Canada, U.S., Mexico sign amended CUSMA trade pact

The Trudeau Liberals had tabled a bill in the last Parliament to ratify the new NAFTA in the event the Americans were able to overcome the political gridlock that has stalled ratification on their end for roughly one year.

There had been speculation the House of Commons could be recalled over the summer to deal with ratification quickly if the U.S. were able to get their end of the process done, but that did not end up happening.

As a result, that ratification bill died when the election was called.

Now, any legislation to do so will need to be reintroduced.

But there are only two full sitting days left before the House of Commons rises for its annual winter break.

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After Friday, parliamentary business will be on hold until the end of January when the House of Commons returns.

Freeland says amendments to CUSMA will make it ‘even better’
Freeland says amendments to CUSMA will make it ‘even better’