""We've existed for 210 years without a free-trade agreement with Canada,'' Sen. John C. Danforth, R-Mo., declared as the panel opened hearings on the proposal. ""I think we can get along for a fewmore years.''
Committee senators said they would offer a resolution to block the negotiations next week and predicted that the measure would be adopted.
They said they needed assurances of safeguards for American businesses ranging from lumber companies to potato growers before giving the green light to the plan aimed at lowering numerous trade barriers between the United States and its northern neighbor.
The administration's proposal would establish the second so-called free-trade zone between the United States and another country. The first, with Israel, went into effect last year.
Danforth, chairman of the Finance Committee's international trade subcommittee, said that before giving the go-ahead for negotiations, it was necessary ""to reestablish some sort of relationship with the administration in which we are again players in international trade policy. …