Does the spectre of U.S. impeachment or a Canadian minority government threaten USMCA ratification?

The White House in Washington, DC. (USDA Photo by Ken Hammond)

We are still waiting for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — NAFTA 2.0 — to be ratified in both Canada and the U.S. In both countries, major political happenings are dragging on the process: a federal election here in Canada, and the threat of impeachment of the president in the U.S.

Canada West Foundation’s Carlo Dade says that there are two schools of thought on whether or not impeachment proceedings bog down the ratification process, and it’s rather tough to know which way it will go. The question of impeachment could be a distraction, but passing the bill could also be viewed as giving U.S. President Donald Trump a win.

We do know, though, that the bill will be a tenuous one for the U.S. house.

“The process of ratifying a trade agreement under the Trade Promotion Authority is drastically different than any other bill that goes through Congress,” Dade says. “Essentially, there’s no chance to update the bill, to change it, to send it back to committee…Once the final report is submitted to Congress, the clock’s ticking.”

Dade believes there are enough votes to pass the bill, but this process isn’t the usual for the U.S. Congress, and the last time congress went through this, the bill passed by razor thin authority, with “two or 3 people going to the bathroom to make it work.”

Here at home, Cabinet decides on the agreement, and it becomes an Order in Council. There is a vote in parliament, but it happens earlier on and doesn’t actually pass the bill. If we end up with a minority government, does that throw a wrench in ratification? Dade says that part of that depends on who forms government and who holds the balance of seats. Certainly, left of centre parties are heavier on criticisms of the agreement and could push for changes. That’s less likely, Dade says, than ratification becoming a political football.

Listen on to hear how Mexico has handled the agreement, how implementation may be where politicians curry favour, and more:

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