'Very low' chance we'll get a deal by Sep. 30: Peter MacKay
The U.S. and Mexico forging ahead with a free trade agreement while Canada opts to join the pact later will not be a “win-win-win” scenario as touted by some, according to former foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay.
MacKay, now partner at Baker McKenzie, told BNN Bloomberg on Friday that it will still be “very difficult for Canada” to agree to the concessions made by Mexico in order to join the agreement later.
“Let’s not forget, Mexico has made a number of concessions on autos, on the dispute resolution, on e-commerce, and there are other elements. We haven’t seen the entire text,” MacKay said. “So, Canada would, in effect, have to accept the concessions that Mexico has made, which is not a ‘win- win-win’ as many have tried to describe it.”
The text of the U.S. and Mexico trade agreement is expected to be released on Friday, as the U.S. Congress pushes Canada to join the pact by a Sunday deadline to allow Mexico’s current government to sign the deal before it leaves office on Dec. 1. Media reports this week have indicated that the text of the agreement will allow Canada to join the agreement at a later date.
But MacKay said recent evidence of strained relations between Canada and the U.S. is a real problem for trade talks.
“We have seen in our lifetime strained relations between Canada and U.S. administrations, but this appears to be an all-time low, where the president has called out, specifically, our lead negotiator, and said they don’t like the tactics,” MacKay said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments this week regarding Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
“I think it goes back further. I think this is also personal with the prime minister. What we saw happen in Quebec, in La Malbaie, when he [Trump] said he [Trudeau] was weak, and dishonest, and Canadians would pay.”
MacKay added the situation has worsened well beyond the point of saying the U.S. president is making idle threats, considering his tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum imports.
“He’s threatening now to do it on cars. If we get into a situation where they don’t take our energy – because they’re energy independent – let’s be honest, we’re into a tailspin economically and a recession is looming,” MacKay said.