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Trudeau, Pence discuss ratifying new NAFTA in V.P.'s first official visit to Canada

Last Updated May 30, 2019 at 5:20 pm MST

Summary

Mike Pence is in Ottawa for a meeting with Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Ratifying the new NAFTA among agenda items in meeting between Trudeau, Pence

Prime minister plans to bring up abortion laws in meeting with the U.S. VP

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The prime minister sat down with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Ottawa on Thursday.

Mike Pence arrived on Parliament Hill with all the pomp and circumstance afforded to world leaders. His visit lasted less than seven hours before taking off back to Washington.

The red carpet was rolled out and there was an official signing ceremony before Justin Trudeau started his private sit-down in his office.

Ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement was at the top of the agenda for the meeting, which came a day after the Trudeau government introduced legislation to ratify the new NAFTA.

“A new NAFTA is good for Canada and good for Canadians,” Trudeau said on Wednesday.

With a divided Congress to the south, and little time left in Canada’s parliamentary calendar before the fall election, Trudeau said he would work in lockstep with the U.S. to give the deal the final green light.

“I want to assure the people of Canada the prime minister drove a hard bargain as did our president,” Pence told reporters on Thursday.

Democrats in the U.S. have threatened to make changes to the deal. With the clock ticking in Canada ahead of the fall vote, there has been some speculation of a rare summer sitting to push the USMCA through.

“I want to assure you that we are making energetic efforts to move approval through the Congress of the United States this summer,” Pence added.

Meantime, Conservative MP John Brassard said his party would not stand in the way.

“We’ve got three weeks left after this week of this session of parliament to get this done. We’re going to work as best we can to make sure that it moves through our parliament quickly,” he added.

Abortion laws

Trudeau also followed through on his promise to raise the new anti-abortion laws being passed in several states during the meeting.

“Obviously, I’m very concerned with the situation around the backsliding of women’s rights that we’re seeing,” Trudeau had said before the meeting.

Some states have recently passed anti-abortion laws, attempting to force the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its decision in the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade case that provides constitutional protection for a woman’s right to choose.

Pence, a well-known opponent to abortion, simply said friends can have differences but still be friends following the meeting.

The two also made a joint call for China to release the two detained Canadians in an ongoing diplomatic dispute.