Canadian envoy downplaying talk of potential trade rift with the U.S.

Published on April 19, 2017

HALIFAX — Ottawa's envoy to Washington is downplaying talk of growing trade irritants with the U.S., a day after President Donald Trump called Canada out by name.

David MacNaughton says despite some U.S. rhetoric — and his own rebuttal released Tuesday — he still expects there will be "constructive discussions" between the two countries because so many jobs on both sides of the border depend on trade.

After a meeting Wednesday with the Nova Scotia cabinet, MacNaughton said upcoming negotiations around revamping NAFTA won't be easy, but the process will work out "just fine" in the end.

In the meantime, MacNaughton says Canada needs to be prepared on every single issue when it comes to cross-border trade and shouldn't isolate any one sector.

A letter from MacNaughton rebutting American criticism of Canada's trade practices in the dairy industry was released Tuesday. 

Trump called out Canada by name Tuesday amid a brewing trade spat that has seen the U.S. dairy lobby accuse it of "systemic disregard" of its trade obligations.

Trump also signalled he wants to do more than simply tweak the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying he is looking for "very big changes" to the trilateral pact that includes Mexico, or else he will scrap it once and for all.

MacNaughton says both he and the government will continue to speak out for Canadian interests and expects the same will be done by politicians in the U.S.

The Canadian Press