Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses supporters at a Liberal Party fundraiser, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday September 4, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Trump and Trudeau muse about walking away from NAFTA deal

Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau raised their trade brinkmanship to a new level on Wednesday

Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau raised their trade brinkmanship to a new level Wednesday with each saying they were willing to walk away from the North American Free Trade Agreement if they don’t get what they want.

Trudeau started the day by branding Trump a rule breaker to argue in favour of keeping a mechanism to resolve trade disputes, while Trump hours later said Canada had more to lose than the United States if the two countries can’t make a deal to preserve the three country NAFTA.

“That’s going to be fine for our country,” Trump said. “It won’t be fine for Canada.”

The bombast of the two leaders contrasted with the insistence of negotiators that the mood inside the room was constructive as talks hit what is being descibred as an intense phase. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland went out of her way to praise her counterpart, U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer, saying he was acting with “good faith” and “good will.”

Negotiations, now in their 13th month, are key to determining the economic and trade relationship among the three North American countries, with many workers’ and industries’ prospects hanging in the balance.

RELATED: Trump doesn’t always follow rules, so Canada needs NAFTA’s Chapter 19: Trudeau

At the same time, Trump needs a win on trade ahead of the U.S. midterm elections in November that will test the president’s ability to keep control of Congress.

“We’re not going to accept that we should have to sign a bad deal just because the president wants that,” Trudeau told Edmonton radio station CHED.

Trudeau offered some of his sharpest criticism of the unpredictable American president, saying that Canada won’t give an inch to Trump’s desire to scrap NAFTA’s Chapter 19 dispute resolution panels. The chapter allows companies to have their differences settled by independent arbiters — something Trump views as an infringement of U.S. sovereignty.

“We need to keep the Chapter 19 dispute resolution because that ensures that the rules are actually followed. And we know we have a president who doesn’t always follow the rules as they’re laid out,” Trudeau said.

Freeland, when asked about the comments, said she didn’t want to negotiate in public, but added: “I agree with the prime minister in public all of the time, and in private 99.99 per cent of the time … he made some important comments.”

The U.S. and Mexico reached a side deal last month, leaving Canada to negotiate separately with the U.S.

Trump hinted there might be progress towards a deal with Canada.

“I think we’ve come a long way toward them treating us fairly,” Trump said.

But other issues have yet to be worked out, including Canada’s cultural exemption in NAFTA. Sources familiar with the Canadian bargaining position say the cultural exemption Canada has insisted on preserving since NAFTA talks reopened remains an 11th-hour sticking point.

Part of the disagreement on culture revolves around Canada’s decision to allow the broadcast of glitzy American Super Bowl commercials, a decision that irks Lighthizer.

RELATED: Liberals won’t compromise on culture, dispute resolution in NAFTA talks: Trudeau

His annual report on barriers to U.S. trade this year singled out the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s decision in 2015 to ban the long-time practice of Canadian advertisers inserting their ads into the Super Bowl broadcast over the more popular American ones.

The new rules went into effect in time for the Super Bowl in February 2017.

American networks worried that the CRTC’s decision reduced the value of Canadian programming because the amount they pay for Super Bowl rights is determined by how much advertising they can sell in Canada, Lighthizer’s report said.

Lighthizer also said American broadcasters operating in border states have complained about Canadian counterparts picking up the U.S. signals and redistributing in Canada without consent. “The United States is exploring avenues to address these concerns,” Lighthizer wrote.

Canada and the U.S. need to present an agreed-upon text to the U.S. Congress by Oct. 1 in order to join the deal the Trump administration signed with Mexico. Trump is threatening to move ahead on a deal with Mexico that excludes Canada.

The goal of this week’s talks is to reach a deal by Dec. 1 so Congress can give its approval to a revised three-country NAFTA before Mexico’s new president takes office.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rebels lose to Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-1

Tigers break Rebels’ three-game winning streak

Red Deer’s newest outdoor ice facility opens to the public next week

The speed skating oval at Setters Place at Great Chief Park will be open Dec. 17th

Exhibition explores the rich history and culture of Métis people

The exhibition is on display from Dec. 15th to March 10th at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery

2019 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championship host sites announced

A total of 39 Provincial Championships will be hosted across the province

40-year Big Brother match a gift to Lacombe man

Andy Pawlyk and his Little Brother Chris Selathamby honoured at BBBS Awards Night

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

‘I practically begged’: B.C. woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

Facebook reveals bug gave apps unauthorized access to 6.8 million users’ photos

It’s believed up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers had access to Facebook Stories, private photos

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

New home for Calgary Flames estimated to cost up to $600 million

The city and the Flames are not yet talking on who will pay how much for a building to replace the Saddledome

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Mike Duffy can’t sue Senate over suspension without pay, judge rules

Duffy’s lawsuit sought more than $7.8 million from the upper chamber

Language on Sikh extremism in report will be reviewed, Goodale says

A public-safety ministry document indicats terrorist threats to Canada included a section on Sikh extremism for the first time

Most Read