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Trudeau tells U.S. lawmakers he's confident USMCA bill will pass Commons

Last Updated Feb 14, 2020 at 3:33 pm EDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, second from left, meets with United States Senator Lindsey Graham, second from right, at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

MUNICH — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is telling U.S. lawmakers that he’s confident his Liberal government will “have the votes” for the House of Commons to ratify the new North American trade deal in the coming weeks.

Trudeau made the comments during a meeting today with a congressional delegation on the margins of a global security conference in Munich.

He thanked members of the Senate and the House of Representatives — a bipartisan group led by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham — for their support for the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which Congress passed late last year after House Democrats negotiated significant changes.

The agreement is expected to become the law of the land about three months after Canada passes its implementation bill.

President Donald Trump signed the U.S. bill last month and Mexico ratified last summer.  

The Liberals were reduced to a minority government in the October federal election and while the Bloc Quebecois is expected to oppose the deal and the NDP has called for a thorough review, Conservative MPs are expected to support it.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was part of a five-premier outreach mission in Washington last week that urged MPs to set politics aside and ratify the deal for the good of the Canadian economy.

“Our parliamentary system is a little … I won’t say a little more complex than you guys,” Trudeau joked with Graham at the start of the meeting.  “It works fine, we just normally start after you guys finish your processes.”

He said he expects the vote to take place “in the coming weeks.”

“Good outcome, you think?” asked Graham.

“Excellent outcome,” Trudeau replied. “We’re very confident we have the votes.”

Conservatives in Ottawa have expressed misgivings about how the deal was reached and whether negotiators, led throughout 2018 by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, could have done better in extracting concessions from the protectionist Trump administration.

When the legislation was introduced late last month, Freeland said the debate would be an important one and that she wouldn’t be taking ratification for granted.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press