As the U.S., Canada and Mexico seek a new and improved North American Free Trade Agreement in negotiations this week, climate change has become a chief obstacle.
Negotiators will be spending seven hours on Tuesday discussing the environment alone.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants any renegotiated NAFTA to include his climate change agenda. Good luck with that, says the Conservative opposition, who note that President Donald Trump yanked the United States out of the Paris climate accord.
That prompted an angry response from Trudeau’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who unleashed a Twitter storm Sunday against the Conservatives.
As the Canadian Press reports, Trudeau’s NAFTA negotiating team is at odds not only with the Trump administration but Canada’s official opposition that has so far walked in perfect unison with the Liberal government as it seeks a renegotiated NAFTA.
While the U.S. is in agreement with Canada over environmental protection, it does not want to link economic policy with climate change.
Nor does the Conservative opposition. Newly appointed foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole ridiculed the Liberals for trying to push their climate change agenda — and other social policies — along with free trade.
O’Toole told the Canadian Press that the opposition will not tolerate what he called “virtue signalling” on issues involving “indigenous” peoples, gender neutrality or climate change.
He said if Trudeau wants to put his social agenda on the NAFTA negotiating table or a “trinket” like climate change, he’s in for a fight.
“For me, I don’t always lead with the attack if I don’t need to. I’m very capable and very effective at the attack if it comes to that,” O’Toole said.
That prompted a social media retaliation from Trudeau’s environment minster, Catherine McKenna who objected to O’Toole’s language. “And so done with ridiculous language from Conservative Party of Canadalike ‘virtue signalling,'” she tweeted.
She also issued an official government response on her Facebook page that included her contention that “the conservatives are still saying that the environment and the economy can be separated! Climate change is real and environmental protection is essential. It is time for the conservatives to understand the message.”
But many experts think the Liberals are experiencing a climate change fantasy.
Professor Chris Kukucha of the University of Lethbridge maintains the U.S. will not be budging on Trudeau’s climate change demands.
“They will try, they’ll bring it up because that’s the government’s mandate. At the end of the day I think the people sitting at the table know that’s a non-starter, it’s not going to be there,” he told the Canadian Press. “Not with that administration in the United States.”