Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

U.S. President Donald Trump is suggesting Canada has deliberately been left on NAFTA’s sidelines as one-on-one talks heat up between Washington and Mexico.

For four straight weeks, U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo have held bilateral negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, while Canada has been absent from the bargaining table.

RELATED: U.S. President Trump threatens auto tariffs against Canada if trade talks fail

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions because it’s allowing the U.S. and Mexico to sort out tough bilateral issues, such as their differences on autos. They’ve stressed that there have been a lot of one-on-one talks during NAFTA’s renegotiation process.

But some observers have refused to buy that argument. They’ve said Ottawa’s partners have frozen it out of the critical NAFTA negotiations as a tactic and have warned that Canada could eventually be forced into accepting a deal reached between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump appeared to feed that belief during a televised cabinet meeting in Washington on Thursday — on the one-year anniversary of the start of NAFTA’s renegotiation.

“We’re not negotiating with Canada right now,” said Trump, who has frequently complained about Canada’s supply-managed dairy sector.

“Their tariffs are too high, their barriers are too strong, so we’re not even talking to them right now. But we’ll see how that works out. It will only work out to our favour.”

During the cabinet meeting, Lighthizer told the room he’s hoping for a NAFTA breakthrough with Mexico in the coming days.

“I’m hopeful with Mexico and then I hope once we get one with Mexico that Canada will come along,” Lighthizer said.

The U.S. and Mexican governments have both expressed optimism the entire NAFTA renegotiation could be concluded before the end of the month.

But Trump insisted Thursday that he’s in “no rush” to make a deal.

RELATED: Trudeau says he can’t imagine Trump damaging U.S. by imposing auto tariffs

“If you don’t have a breakthrough, as you call it, don’t do the deal because it’s a lousy situation for the United States,” he told Lighthizer.

“We have much better alternatives than that, you understand? So, if you can’t make the right deal, don’t make it.”

Trump added that NAFTA has “been a disaster for our country.”

Asked about Trump’s remarks Thursday, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Ottawa’s officials remain in touch with their American and Mexican partners.

“Minister Freeland, Ambassador (David) MacNaughton and the Canadian negotiating team are in regular contact with their counterparts and we look forward to continuing these important discussions in the coming weeks,” Adam Austen wrote in an email.

“Our focus remains defending Canadian interests as we work towards a modernized, updated NAFTA agreement.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rainmaker Liam McChesney commits to Utah State University

Charles Hays Rainmakers’ forward will play on the U.S. school’s basketball team in 2019-2020

Up to 20 cannabis stores possible in Prince Rupert

City planner said it’s ‘ludicrous’ to expect that many shops downtown

Government makes amends for chopped cherry trees

Shimizu family to attend a special ceremony in Prince Rupert where a plaque will be revealed

A vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance in Prince Rupert

Names to read of all the transpeople who were killed in the past year

School Board appoint new chair

James Horne replaces Tina Last, who held the position for 13 years

This Week – Episode 111

Selena Horne, Charles Hays high school musical star, co-hosts the Northern View’s weekly show

Delivering the paper as a family

The Northern View is looking for newspaper carriers in Prince Rupert, join our team today

Roy Clark, country singer, ‘Hee Haw’ star, has died

Guitar virtuoso died because of complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla. He was 85.

Lack of funding, culture on campus biggest barriers for Indigenous students: report

Report based on nearly 300 responses found lack of support at post-secondary schools a big concern

Tinder sex assault suspect charged; additional alleged victims sought

Vincent Noseworthy of Alberta is accused of aggravated sexual assault, unlawful confinement and more

Drug-related deaths double for B.C. youth in care, advocate says

Teens say positive connections with adults key to recovery

Children’s strawberry-flavoured medicines recalled due to faulty safety cap

Three different acetaminophen syrups part of nationwide recall

Around the BCHL: Junior A cities to host World Junior tuneup games

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

International students hit hard by B.C. tuition fee hikes

Campaign seeks regulatory controls be imposed on post-secondary institutions

Most Read