We’re just a year away (or less?) from a federal election, even as deadlines on huge trade deals, such as NAFTA and CPTPP, loom large. As the opposing Conservatives narrow their gap in the polls with the reigning Liberals, Official Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Scheer answers some tough questions on how the Conservatives would be navigating these trade talks.
Beginning with the NAFTA talks, RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney asks Scheer if he’s supportive of Canada’s NAFTA negotiating tactics. Scheer says they want to get a trade deal, but they are very worried about the Liberal government’s strategy. He says one side has its eye on the ball and it’s not Canada. “They (the Americans) are talking about autos and steel and aluminum and ag and what did Justin Trudeau respond with? Social issues, gender issues, Indigenous issues, environmental issues. And, look, we said look those are issues we can talk about as Canadians, we can definitely have part of the government focus on that, but when you’re talking about fighting for market access … you need to stay focused to keep things on track.”
When it comes to supply management, Scheer points out the Americans have their own method of protecting dairy, and just simply giving away points with nothing from the American side in return is not a good idea.
“Supply management has a different model. It is consumer based, not government based. Also I think it’s very important for everyone in Canada to understand, no matter what your position on supply management is or whether you’re in the agriculture sector or not to remember that the American’s have their own system for dairy production as well,” he says.
Moving on from NAFTA, Scheer says that as the representative for the Regina-Qu’Appelle constituency in Saskatchewan, he’s well versed on rural issues, such as broadband access. (story continues below)
Access to broadband and the Internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity, Scheer says. “We cannot allow the divide between rural and urban Canada to become so distinct it’s almost like we have two different qualities of life.”
“We still maintain a Team Canada approach, in terms of the Conservative Party, when we’re in Washington when we’re meeting with U.S. officials we promote the benefits of free trade and we talk about it. We are the party of free trade. We are the party that has always, consistently stood up for free trade,” says Scheer.
Much of what Scheer is focussed on is making sure Canadians are able to compete in the world environment. His concern is that, “the Liberal government is sending a terrible signal to the rest of the world that Canada’s a country you can’t do business in.