Freeland gets briefing from U.S. lawmakers on tight window for passing NAFTA

WASHINGTON — Canada’s foreign minister got a detailed explanation Thursday about why there might only be a few days left to get a NAFTA agreement in 2018.

Chrystia Freeland attended a discussion with top U.S. lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

They included the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, and Kevin Brady, the chair of the House committee that oversees trade legislation.

They shared their view of the so-called fast-track law, which sets the rules for votes on trade deals.

The prevailing view in Washington is that it would likely be impossible to get a vote this year on any agreement reached after around May 18, and if it doesn’t happen this year a new Congress will consider the issue after the midterm elections.

Freeland said she appreciated hearing from lawmakers who actually wrote and are responsible for implementing the U.S. rules.`

“The rules are set out quite clearly in the … legislation,” she said later.

“It was certainly useful for me to hear directly from some of the people who actually wrote it, how they see that process playing out…. We discussed how the … (fast-track) legislation could come into play.”

She said lots of progress has been made this week, and negotiators are closer to success — although the talks have been mostly seized with the issue of autos, giving little space to hard negotiations on other top files.

The autos issue, in particular, has pitted the Trump administration against Mexico. The Canadian government has offered broad suggestions throughout the process, and has also voiced some concerns about the specifics of the proposed new rules, but is less of a litigant on this issue than the other two countries, who have clashed with different visions of the future of the sector.

For the second time this week, Freeland did not meet with U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer in person Thursday, as he worked on the auto differences with his Mexican counterpart.

They have continued speaking by phone.

Freeland wasn’t ruling out an imminent deal just yet: “Very meaningful, productive work is being done this week. We have made a lot of progress since Monday,” she said.

“We are definitely getting closer to the final objective.”

Just Posted

WATCH: Central Albertans learn about farm life at Sunnybrook Farm Museum

Pioneer Days Festival in Red Deer Saturday-Sunday

Number of seniors who play bridge in Red Deer growing

Red Deer Bridge Club has been around for close to 60 years

PHOTOS: Buccaneers battle Wolfpack in AFL semifinal

The Central Alberta Buccaneers battled the Calgary Wolfpack in the Alberta Football… Continue reading

Raising awareness for Bikers Against Child Abuse

Second annual Raise A Ruckus Against Child Abuse was held at the Red Deer Radisson Hotel Saturday

Central Alberta Yogathon cancelled Saturday

Due to air quality concerns the fourth annual event will take place Sept. 15

VIDEO: Central Albertans learn about Icelandic poet at Stephansson House

Harvest Fair and Quilt Show hosted at Stephansson House in Spruce View Sunday

Trump says his White House counsel not a ‘RAT’ like Nixon’s

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his White House… Continue reading

Wildfire moves closer to Glacier National Park’s scenic road

MISSOULA, Mont. — A wildfire in Montana’s Glacier National Park is forcing… Continue reading

Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Couillard march in Montreal’s Pride parade

MONTREAL — Thousands of cheering spectators lined the streets of Montreal on… Continue reading

All eyes on Andrew Scheer as Conservative convention set for Halifax

OTTAWA — After a week of internal caucus squabbles, Conservative Leader Andrew… Continue reading

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

In the wake of deadly flooding in the Indian state of Kerala,… Continue reading

Indonesia’s Lombok island jolted by multiple quakes

SEMBALUN, Indonesia — Strong earthquakes jolted the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok… Continue reading

Afghan president calls for Eid cease-fire, Taliban to reply

KABUL — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has called for a conditional cease-fire… Continue reading

Montreal may have less influence after October provincial election

MONTREAL — When Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault recently dismissed the… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month