Justin Trudeau’s first order of business when Canada’s parliament returns next week will be ratifying the new North American free-trade agreement.
At the conclusion of a three-day cabinet retreat on Tuesday, the prime minister announced his government will start the formal parliamentary process for ratification on Monday. The full bill will be introduced in the legislature on Wednesday.
“We are going to make sure we move forward in the right way and that means ratifying this new NAFTA as quickly as possible,” he said in Winnipeg, Man.
The deal, a result of a year of rough negotiations with Donald Trump’s administration, has been passed in the U.S. Senate and is awaiting the president’s signature. It has also been approved in Mexico.
Ratification won’t be a straightforward process. Trudeau will need to get the support of at least one opposition party to pass legislation, and expedite debate, after losing his parliamentary majority in October’s election.
When the prime minister set out the broad strokes of his agenda in last month’s Throne Speech, it passed with the help of the Bloc Quebecois. But the separatist party has concerns about how last-minute tweaks to the deal will impact aluminum producers in the province.
In its negotiations on NAFTA, Trudeau said his government will stress the need “to secure our most important trading relationship for future generations, to ensure that jobs for workers right across the country that rely on trade with the United States are in a good place” and to restore investor confidence after an extended period of uncertainty.
The main opposition Conservatives are supportive of the deal in general, but have vowed to grill the Liberals over its specifics when the House of Commons resumes sitting on Monday.