Trudeau, Freeland meeting with Mexico’s trade negotiator today

Labour standards are expected to dominate conversations today between top Canadian officials and Mexico’s point man on the new North American free-trade agreement.

Jesús Seade, chief Mexican negotiator on the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), has meetings with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland in Ottawa, as efforts to ratify the trade deal heat up. 

All three countries signed the renegotiated deal last year, but it has to be ratified by their separate legislatures before it takes full effect.

The deal has stalled in U.S. Congress, where Democrats have been digging in for stricter enforcement measures on the deal’s labour and environmental standards.

The American labour movement in particular has been wary of Mexico’s assurances and are still concerned U.S. jobs will continue to head south if Mexico doesn’t raise wages and bring in collective bargaining in a timely manner.

Enter Canada. 

The Trudeau government is positioning itself as a player that can soothe those concerns.

Last summer, it set up a bilateral working group with Mexico to offer Canadian advice on labour practices (like how to properly certify unions) and has offered to use Canadian trainers and other experts to bring

The pricetag attached to that offer is still unknown.

Freeland, who retained political responsibility for the negotiations in last week’s cabinet shuffle, was in Washington D.C. earlier this week to meet with her American and Mexican counterparts.

American officials had suggested their Thanksgiving holiday as a deadline for concluding negotiations between, but that has since passed.

Seade will hold a press conference after his meetings at 3 p.m. ET. CBC News will cary it live online.