A former Canadian industry minister thinks too much is being made about the country being ‘frozen out’ of NAFTA talks as the U.S. and Mexico have planned head-to-head discussions.

“I think the news out of yesterday that’s being covered today about Canada being frozen out is not frankly quite the truth,” James Moore, who served as federal industry minister from 2013-2015 told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Tuesday. “These are complex and intense negotiations with a lot at stake.”

“Any time there’s a tripartite agreement, there’s always going to be voices domestically, I can assure you, in Mexico, in the United States and in Canada who are going to say that we’re being bullied by the other two partners... There’s certainly maneuvering and debate amongst all three partners.”

Moore believes Canada could benefit from less debate internally as it strives for a renegotiated NAFTA. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper – Moore’s former boss – ruffled some feathers within Canada last month with a trip to the White House that the Trudeau government found out about seemingly by accident.

He thinks that Canada would be best served to focus at the task at hand for the country and leave politics to the side while it does.

Can't have a deal at the expense of Canadian industry: NAFTA council member

BNN Bloomberg speaks with Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. He talks about the message he hopes Canada is able to get across to the U.S. amid the threat of potential auto tariffs.

“This is a country-first moment. This is, I think, a non-ideological concept,” Moore said. “The left-right axis, the Liberal-Conservative axis, those divides, I think those need to fade. I think the country-first moniker is something that we’re all marching by to try to arrive at these market access opportunities for creation of Canadian jobs at home.”

He added that if Canada can stick together through the negotiations, it will likely come out ahead on the other side.

“We [Canada] believe in creating jobs through world sales. The global marketplace is ours,” he said. “We’re the only country in the world to have tariff-free access to more than 50 per cent of the global economy. It’s a huge strategic advantage for Canada.”

As for a NAFTA finish line, Moore believes it’s within striking distance if all three parties can keep their eyes on their respective prizes.

“I think if people come together and really want to have that goal: If President Trump wants to be seen as a dealmaker, if [incoming Mexican President Andres Manuel] Lopez Obrador wants to arrive into government in December of this year with having really accomplished something critical to the Mexican economy, and if the government of Prime Minister Trudeau wants to put NAFTA to bed and create economic certainty for the next 24 years of the NAFTA partnership … I think if they all sort of keep that north star as their focus, I think a reasonable compromise can be arrived at for the benefit of all three countries.”