Freeland not returning immediately to Washington after briefing PM on NAFTA

Foreign Affair Minister Chrystia Freeland refused to go into any detail about the issues

Canada’s negotiating team spent several hours Wednesday updating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the state of NAFTA talks and getting his marching orders for the days ahead.

Foreign Affair Minister Chrystia Freeland refused to go into any detail about the issues on which the prime minister needed to sign off or what instructions she and the rest of the NAFTA team received.

However, she said lead negotiator Steve Verheul and David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, would be returning to Washington immediately to resume negotiations on Thursday.

Freeland herself will not be returning to Washington right away, but said she’ll be keeping in close contact with her American counterpart, trade czar Robert Lighthizer.

She said the fact that she and Lighthizer are not immediately scheduled to meet again should “absolutely not” be taken as a sign that the talks are stalled.

“This is absolutely a process which is moving forward. It is a continuous negotiation,” Freeland said after her second briefing of the day with Trudeau.

“In negotiations, you do work and resolve the issues that you can at the ministerial level and then you reach points where what is needed is continued technical work.”

Freeland, Verheul and MacNaughton flew in from Washington on Tuesday to brief the prime minister in Saskatoon, where he was attending a Liberal caucus retreat.

Freeland said the atmosphere surrounding the talks continues to be positive, and she believes a good deal for all three NAFTA partners is within reach.

“Getting there is going to take goodwill, good faith and flexibility on all sides,” she added.

While Trudeau has been consulted throughout the 13-month negotiation, the face-to-face meetings with the negotiating team Wednesday suggested there were some big — and potentially politically loaded — issues to settle.

“This is an important time in the negotiation and so it was really important for me, for the negotiators to speak directly with the prime minister to brief him on the issues and to have him give us his instructions on where to move going forward,” Freeland said.

Earlier, in a brief speech opening the caucus retreat, Trudeau went out of his way to praise the “formidable, tireless” Freeland and her determination to get a deal that is good for Canada. He reiterated his assertion that no deal is better than a bad deal.

However, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe later said he’s not sure that’s true.

“We cannot move forward with a bad deal. I’m not certain we can move forward with no deal either,” he said after meeting with Trudeau.

“We need to engage with the United States. They are our largest trading partner.”

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who is the midst of an election, said Wednesday he wouldn’t accept an agreement that doesn’t meet the approval of dairy farmers in his province.

While Trudeau has vowed to protect Canada’s system of supply management which regulates the price of dairy, eggs and poultry, he has also indicated he’s willing to be flexible on allowing some limited additional imports, as was done in the Trans Pacific and European Union trade deals.

However, dairy farmers maintain they’ve already made enough concessions and shouldn’t have to do so again to get a NAFTA deal.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

About the Canucks

The weekly sports column for the 100 Mile Free Press

From the Free Press archives

36 Years Ago (1982): The future of a proposed South Cariboo Sub-regional… Continue reading

Calling all sledders: snowmobile show coming to the South Cariboo

‘Spectacular scenery, everybody laughing and having fun’

Children’s character

A weekly family column for the 100 Mile Free Press

Do you have anything left to do before winter hits?

The weekly streeter for the 100 Mile Free Press

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

Most Read