In a press briefing on Friday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland declared that a compromise with the United States regarding NAFTA had not yet been reached.
Freeland declared she was determined to reach an agreement “in the interest” of Canada, and not just “any agreement.”
While rumors earlier in the week indicated that Trudeau was open to softening his position on supply management, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer publicly declared the opposite Friday.
“Negotiations between the United States and Canada continue. There was no concession from Canada’s part on agriculture.”
Since the 1970s, Supply management has allowed milk and egg producers to control the price and supply of their products. NAFTA, put into effect in 1994, largely excludes the system, which enforces a tariff of 275% on foreign eggs and milk. As such, consumers are forced to purchase more expensive Canadian products.
Supporters of supply management have argued the system protects middle-class dairy farmers and egg producers by providing them with a stable income.
Attending a press conference with the president of the Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA), Quebec political leaders Philippe Couillard (Liberal Party of Quebec), Jean-François Lisée (Parti Québécois) and Manon Massé (Québec Solidaire) displayed a common front in defense of supply management.
“The path of the electoral campaign this morning, it’s the path of the farmers of Quebec” stated Liberal premier Couillard.
“Why do I defend supply management? Because I believe in our farmers…Nowhere is it written that Canada and Quebec should serve to be the spillway for American overproduction.”
Couillard, who had previously stated he would not attend a meeting with other political leaders in support of supply management, had surprisingly changed his position on Thursday evening.
Jean Francois Lisée, leader of the Parti Québécois and the first leader to propose such a meeting, also had several words to say regarding supply management.
“Quebec is still at risk… We must send a message of great firmness, that’s what we’re doing today.”
Francois Legault–leader of the frontrunning Coalition Avenir Quebec–was campaigning in the region of Saguenay, and thus unable to participate in the conference. CAQ MNA and candidate Chantal Soucy stated that her leader was likely tricked by the Liberal premier to not attend.
The agenda of the CAQ was posted on Thursday, before Couillard changed his position on going to the meeting. The implication being that Couillard decided to attend the meeting in order for Legault to be the only political leader absent. “That’s the impression it gives” declared Soucy in relation to Couillard’s late decision to participate.
Legault instead hosted his own telephone press conference in Saguenay, speaking with agricultural representatives.
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