Shortly after the ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade held a press conference this morning, Scott Brison held one of his own. As trade critic, he had things to say about the recent deal made on the Buy American provisions in the States – and most of them weren’t good.
“I’m absolutely appalled that the government, this morning, is boasting about a breakthrough deal when in fact this is more of a break-down deal,” Brison started off. “A government that did not deliver the results that Canadians deserved, a government that failed to negotiate a deal when it was needed, last March, Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day declared victory on Buy American. Today they’re declaring victory again – in both cases they’re wrong. In both cases, they’re too little, too late. Most of the Buy American funding has been committed or spent – the rest will expire very soon.”
Brison excoriated the government for not getting the deal last March when it was needed. He pointed out that only 37 of the 50 have signed on, and that there are significant carve-outs on areas like public transportation and highways.
There was even a prorogation angle – Parliament isn’t sitting, and the Conservatives made it policy that Parliament has to ratify these kinds of agreements. That means that it can’t be signed off on until mid-March at the earliest, which means that the time for Canadian companies to access the remaining stimulus funds.
Much of Brison’s comments echoed what he told Xtra.ca earlier this week – that the government has neglected their relationship with the Americans, that our revolving door of trade ministers means there are no relationships being built, and that we should be dealing with them on energy security as our means of leverage.
And is this deal much like the softwood lumber agreement, which turned out to not be such a good deal for Canada after all?
“In softwood lumber or Buy American, this government declared prematurely peace in our time, and instead of getting peace in our time, we have found more attacks on Canadian softwood lumber” Brison said. “In this case, whether it’s been on softwood lumber or Buy American, this is a government that has failed to defend Canadian interests effectively in the United States, our largest trading partner.”