NAFTA talks keeping Freeland in Washington, sends substitute to NATO summit

WASHINGTON — With the NAFTA talks at a critical juncture, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is changing her travel plans and staying in the U.S. capital.

Freeland had been scheduled to fly to Brussels today for the start of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, which was to feature an encounter with the newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Instead she got a phone call from Pompeo as he left Washington on Thursday and Freeland remained in the U.S. for the marathon round aimed at getting a new continental trade deal.

”Very unfortunately, I have decided that I will not be able to attend the NATO … meeting,” Freeland told reporters as she entered the U.S. trade building.

”I think it’s important for us to keep on working at this.”

Her parliamentary secretary Omar Alghabra is travelling to Brussels in her place.

There are still numerous differences at the NAFTA negotiating table, notwithstanding several positive signals, and an all-out push to get an agreement by Tuesday, when U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs take effect and the U.S. trade czar expects to head to China.

One Canadian briefed on the talks says there are gulfs over a U.S. push to introduce a so-called sunset clause in the agreement and cancel the Chapter 19 dispute-settlement system, as well as divisions over intellectual property and public procurement.

When asked about the chance of a deal in the next few days Unifor union leader Jerry Dias was unequivocal: ”Less than zero per cent.” He said that aside from autos, the key issues had seen little movement.

Mexico’s economy minister was not nearly that emphatic but he also downplayed expectations of imminent success. Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters that he was also remaining in Washington, because there is still a lot to do.

“Too many things. Too many issues to tackle. So we have to keep on working,” Guajardo said.

”We’re trying to do our best, but there are still a lot of things pending. … We are (working) on all the topics. Auto rules, intellectual property. Everything is on the table.”

Both he and Freeland said they can stay in Washington as long as necessary.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer shows respect at annual celebration

Central Alberta Sexual Assault Suport Centre holds Respect Day at city hall park

Red Deer man sentenced to 4 1/2 years for fatal shooting

Mother-of-two was killed when a rifle in a sports bag accidentally went off in February 2017

Kitten found in engine is “so far, so good”

It’s kitten season at Central Alberta Humane Society in Red Deer

Fathers’ rights group to rally in front of Red Deer Courthouse

For a few months now, Mattias Battauz has been in front of… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s Food Truck Friday opens in a larger new venue

Carnival Cinemas space praised by customers and vendors

NDP nominates candidate for pending Innisfail-Sylvan Lake byelection

Seat vacant after previous MLA charged with sexual assault

Hunt underway for two suspects connected to Mississauga, Ont., blast

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police are actively hunting for two suspects believed to… Continue reading

Handcuffed Weinstein faces rape charge in #MeToo reckoning

NEW YORK — It was the moment the #MeToo movement had been… Continue reading

Waterline work closes 48th Avenue in Red Deer this weekend

Drivers can expect a major closure in downtown Red Deer this weekend.… Continue reading

Stettler police looking for alleged shoplifter who stole shoes

Stettler Mounties are looking for a woman they say stole a pair… Continue reading

Teamsters union members vote 98.1 per cent to reject CP Rail final offer

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference says its members at Canadian Pacific Railway… Continue reading

Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps to 1,600 hectares overnight

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 1,600 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Referendum in Ireland would repeal strict ban on abortion

DUBLIN — Ireland’s referendum Friday represented more than a vote on whether… 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