Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday the increasing number of voices speaking up in support of NAFTA from within the United States is proof the Liberal government’s approach to renegotiating the treaty is working.
Trudeau made the remarks at the closing press conference of a retreat for the federal cabinet in London, Ont., in which he said Canada would continue be respectful but firm in standing up for Canada.
“We’re going to continue to work diligently, and might I add, that the number of voices that we are seeing speak up in the United States in support of NAFTA demonstrates that our serious and positive approach is delivering fruit,” the prime minister said.
Asked about reports U.S. President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and a number of other states as a group of “shithole” countries, Trudeau said he would not comment on the remarks and instead noted the eighth anniversary of the Haitian earthquake.
“I think you all know that I am not going to opine on what the president may or may not have said,” Trudeau remarked. “I will simply repeat that Canada is a country of openness of respect and we will continue to be there to support friends around the world and to welcome people who will contribute to building a stronger country.”
Trudeau is wrapping up a two-day cabinet retreat in London where his ministers met to take stock of progress to date and plot strategy for the upcoming parliamentary sitting and the rest of the mandate.
Canada’s economy and the fate of NAFTA were key issues for cabinet ministers, as reports suggesting the Trump administration was preparing to pull the plug moved markets and weakened the Canadian dollar.
But late yesterday, Trump hinted at a reprieve, telling the Wall Street Journal he would be “leaving it a little bit flexible” until the Mexican presidential election on July 1, though he repeated his threat to withdraw from NAFTA if he could not negotiate improvements for the U.S.
Today, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called Trump’s change of heart “sensible” and “constructive.”
The next round of NAFTA talks will begin in Montreal Jan. 23, just days before MPs return to Parliament.
The Liberals will spend the year working to check off more 2015 campaign promises, before gearing up for next year’s federal election.