Pence-Trudeau meeting will be more businesslike and without Trump antics: Derek Burney
A former Canadian ambassador to the United States says he wouldn’t bet on the U.S. ratifying the new North American Free Trade Agreement this year as political tensions brew south of the border.
Derek Burney, now a senior strategic advisor at Norton Rose Fulbright, spoke ahead of a highly-anticipated meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence in Ottawa on Thursday, where the leaders are primarily expected to discuss the ratification process of the new trade agreement. U.S. President Donald Trump has yet to make an official state visit to the country.
“I think the prime minister will want to get a better sense from the vice-president as to whether the Democrats in the House in particular, especially in light of [Wednesday’s] developments in Washington, are going to go along with ratification this year,” Burney said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Thursday.
“I would not put a bet on that today.”
Political tensions in the U.S. have mounted in recent weeks amid an ongoing debate over whether to impeach Trump. That debate intensified Wednesday after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first public statement on his nearly two-year investigation into the president. Meanwhile, the feud between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also heated up after an infrastructure dispute last week, which has called into question whether the two sides can cooperate enough to get the new trade deal ratified.
“The worst-case scenario would be that in frustration Donald Trump would move to abrogate NAFTA,” said Burney, noting the original deal remains in place until the revised agreement takes effect. “Trump has threatened from time-to-time to throw out NAFTA if he doesn’t get an agreement with the Democrats.”
“There’s nothing that tells me today that the Democrats in the House of Representatives want to give this president a victory on anything.”
The prime minister introduced legislation on Wednesday to get the deal ratified, citing the U.S. lifting steel and aluminum tariffs for the move. Burney said the worst outcome for the Trudeau government in terms of NAFTA becoming a federal election issue is if the deal is scrapped altogether.
“If the Canadian government gets it ratified I think they will have done their jobs,” Burney said. “That’s as much as they can be expected to do. The wildcard is the United States.”