Last week, I was honoured to travel to Washington with our Leader, Rona Ambrose, to meet with American legislators prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration as the forty-fifth president of the United States. The Trump Team released its 100-day plan back in October, so Canada and the world have had an idea of what to expect during the first days of the new Administration.
Comments this week from his pick for Commerce Secretary confirmed that the North American Free Trade Agreement will be one of the first items on President Trump’s agenda. As NAFTA is Canada’s most important free trade agreement, the Liberal government must have a strategy in place for ensuring that Canada’s interests are protected if and when future negotiations occur. In short, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals must make our relationship with the United States their number one foreign policy and international trade priority.
Conservatives have been saying all along that the Liberal government must stop governing in the past and start reaching out to the Trump team to defend Canadian jobs. I am therefore pleased that the Prime Minister heeded this advice and sent his senior advisors to meet with Trump’s transition team to discuss the future of NAFTA. But just taking meetings is not enough - Canadians expect to see results from the Liberal Government. We hope to see results that include the protection of almost 400,000 jobs from a new softwood lumber agreement, new jobs for Canadian oil and gas sector workers from an agreement to build the Keystone XL pipeline, and the continuation of our stable trading relationship through the preservation of the mutually-beneficial North American Free Trade Agreement.
The Liberal government must also work to engage Congress, like Ms. Ambrose and myself have been doing this week; and harness cross-border associations such as the Canadian-American Business Council and the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, to apprise American decision makers on the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship to both Canada’s and America’s prosperity. They need to know that almost $2 billion in trade crosses our shared border every day and that nine million American jobs depend on trade with Canada.
Recognizing the intention of the new Trump Administration to enhance U.S. domestic competitiveness by lowering U.S. corporate and income taxes, Justin Trudeau must also take action here at home to ensure that our Canadian businesses can maintain their own competitiveness in the North American market. Specifically, it is imperative that this Liberal government give up on its carbon tax scheme and other tax-raising measures which are putting Canadian companies at a competitive disadvantage internationally.
As the Opposition Critic for Canada-U.S. Relations, I will continue to brief and inform American Members of Congress on the importance of Canada to their domestic economy, so they can make informed decisions when creating or voting on policies that affect us. I will also continue to work to hold Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government to account here at home for their policies which have made it harder for Canadians to do business in today’s world.
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