Former prime minister Stephen Harper says it is “unequivocal” that the United States scored a good deal with the revamped North American trade pact, while Canada tried to mitigate losses.
Harper made the remark during a discussion at the Canadian Club of Toronto Thursday promoting his new book, “Right Here, Right Now,” which tackles how conservatives should respond to a rise of global populism.
A livestream captured the former Conservative PM’s roughly 40 minute chat with former party president John Walsh. Reporters were initially invited to the event, but the club rescinded the offer this week and stated the invites were sent in error.
Watch the full interview:
Harper was asked about his thoughts on the negotiations that led to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“Yeah, I had a few thoughts,” he said, spurring laughs from the crowd. “That I mostly tried to keep between me and my clients.”
The former prime minister made headlines last October after a memo written for clients of his consulting firm, titled “Napping on NAFTA,” was obtained by The Canadian Press. Harper expressed concerns at the time about the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations and warned U.S. President Donald Trump wasn’t bluffing about terminating the deal.
“Canada’s government needs to get its head around this reality: it does not matter whether current American proposals are worse than what we have now,” the letter stated. “What matters in evaluating them is whether it is worth having a trade agreement with the Americans or not.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland have since charged Harper — and by extension the party he once led — wanted Canada to “capitulate” to U.S. demands. It remains a key talking point for Trudeau’s cabinet when fielding USMCA-related questions.
Watch: Scheer says Trudeau ‘backed down to Trump’ on USMCA
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