The Canadian Parliament today began the process of ratifying the new North American trade agreement, known as the USMCA, the last step necessary for the agreement negotiated by the United States, Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA to enter into force.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today at the resumption of the Lower House of Parliament that they will “focus on ratifying it quickly”. Although Trudeau’s Liberal Party holds only 157 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons, Trudeau is confident that he will gain the support of other parties to achieve ratification.
The agreement also has to be approved by the Canadian Senate, which will not resume its sessions until February 4th.
Also today, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland asked during a press conference in Ottawa that the opposition parties support the approval of the agreement “without delay”.
Freeland was in charge of presenting today in the Lower House the text of the motion that will initiate the approval of the agreement.
“I ask that all of us in this place work together as colleagues to put Canada and the Canadians ahead of us and pass this legislation without undue delay,” said Freeland, who negotiated the USMCA during her time as foreign minister.
Freeland added that the agreement “is a victory for all Canadians from any party and from all regions” of Canada.
The Trudeau government expects the Conservative, the main opposition party, with 121 MPs, to support the ratification of the agreement.
Today, Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Québécois (BQ), the third party in number of seats with 32 and representing the interests of the province of Quebec, said that although the formation defends free trade, he wants to be sure that the USMCA protects the aluminum industry, key to the French-speaking province.
But Canada’s own aluminum sector has given the go-ahead to the agreement and has also called for rapid ratification of the agreement.
Meanwhile, representatives of the country’s business and economic organizations today expressed their support for the ratification of the agreement.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that “it is crucial for companies that this agreement is ratified quickly,” given that the United States and Mexico are the country’s two main trading partners.
The Chamber of Commerce added that the USMCA “represents a good result for the Canadian economy even if not all aspects of the agreement are perfect for all sectors of the economy.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, representing municipalities across the country, also expressed support for ratification.
“We are the economic engines of our countries and the mutual benefits of a strong and fair economic relationship between the three countries are clear. Our free and fair trade partnership is critical to building globally competitive communities and a prosperous future,” the federation added.