Does the SNC-Lavalin scandal put Canadian USMCA ratification in jeopardy?

Canadians are very much wrapped up in the testimony of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Gerald Butts on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. When your house is amid chaos and controversy it can be very difficult for a government to get their work done.

For farmers and ranchers in Canada there is a very important piece of business to be done before the house rises in June. For Canadian agricultural exporters, Canada’s ratification of the USMCA is critical during very turbulent times. Most followers of the USMCA story have been concerned about the U.S. Congress approval, but could the Canadian ratification be waylaid?

President of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, Brian Innes emphasized the importance of the USMCA and it’s long-thought challenges to me via email, “Ratification of the CUSMA is a priority for agri-food exporters. It’s very important that unjustified steel and aluminum tariffs affecting the agri-food industry are also removed. From what we’re seeing, the biggest thing affecting CUSMA ratification is calibrating efforts across all three countries. At this point, there’s a lot of uncertainty in Washington that clouds when CUSMA can be ratified.”

But what about in Canada? Could the current government turbulence create legislative challenges for the USMCA ratification in Canada? When I appeared on Agritalk on Wednesday, a listener from the U.S. tweeted me this exact question.

Innes doesn’t think so,  saying”Turmoil in the headlines is not a major factor in advancing priority legislation.”

Adam Taylor, president of Export Action Global, believes that, “if I was the Canadian government I would want to ratify the USMCA quickly to change the channel of what is going on and get a needed win.”

In my opinion the fact still remains that Canada is governed under a parliamentary system and the liberals have a seat majority which allows them to ratify this trade deal by June if the political will is there. Do not forget there is an election in the fall of 2019 and being able to ratify the deal is something Trudeau will want to boast about on the campaign trail since he is so interested in saving jobs at this point in time.

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