U.S. takes harsh stance on NAFTA, but Canada well-equipped
Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest says recent turmoil in the United States is hurting business confidence in Canada.
“If you look at what’s happened in the last few days, the common sense thing would be to say, ‘wait.’ And that means investments are being held up, decisions are being tossed aside, jobs aren’t being created,” Charest told BNN in an interview Thursday. “It’s more uncertainty and that’s not good for investment.”
U.S. President Donald Trump faced major backlash this past week for failing to fully condemn white supremacists after an attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. As a result, a number of American CEOs quit two of his White House business councils, both of which Trump disbanded Wednesday.
“We would hope that [the U.S. government] would find a way to address this issue,” Charest said. “You look at this and it’s not going to finish well. It’s sad. They need to get a grip on governing and what’s happening there.”
The increasing anti-trade rhetoric that has occurred in the run up to the NAFTA trade talks that got underway this week in Washington, D.C. will not help the renegotiations, said Charest, who is also a partner at the law firm of McCarthy Tetrault.
“What the Canadian and Mexican side are going to do is I think try to avoid the trap of the rhetoric – not respond to it, not get distracted by it – and constantly bring the American side to reality,” he said.
Charest also said talks will likely take longer than expected, calling the current timeline “awkward” as mid-terms in the U.S. and the Mexican election approach next year.
“The Americans say we want to finish by the end of 2017. This is like house renovations...they’re never on time, ” he said.