Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Trudeau Government Bolsters Canadian Team in U.S. in Prep for NAFTA Talks

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Trudeau Government Bolsters Canadian Team in U.S. in Prep for NAFTA Talks

Article excerpt

Canadian diplomatic team in U.S. beefed up

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OTTAWA - The Trudeau government is beefing up its team in the United States as it prepares a full court press to defend Canada's interests in the looming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Sources say the government is creating a new position of deputy ambassador to the U.S. and is filling it with one of this country's foremost trade experts: Kirsten Hillman.

Trade-savvy individuals are also being appointed as consuls general in Atlanta, San Francisco and Seattle and the government is actively considering opening new consulates in other parts of the U.S.

Here at home, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, the lead minister on NAFTA, is creating a special council to advise her on all aspects of the trilateral trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico.

The council will have about a dozen members, representing the groups that have the most at stake in the negotiations, which are to begin on Aug. 16 in Washington.

And in a sign that the government is determined to take a unified, non-partisan Team Canada approach to the talks, the council also includes James Moore, a minister of both industry and heritage in Stephen Harper's previous Conservative government, and Brian Topp, a veteran NDP strategist who ran for the federal party leadership in 2012 and who most recently served as chief of staff to Alberta's NDP premier, Rachel Notley.

The advisory council and the new raft of diplomatic appointments to the U.S. are to be announced Wednesday.

Sources, who weren't authorized to speak publicly about the announcement, told The Canadian Press the objective is to assemble the strongest team possible to protect and advance Canada's interests in the NAFTA negotiations.

Dispatching Hillman to Washington to backstop Ambassador David MacNaughton was touted as a particularly critical addition to the team. She was most recently an assistant deputy minister at Global Affairs, where she was responsible for leading Canada's trade negotiations agenda, including exploratory free trade discussions with China and ratification of the Canada-European Union trade agreement. …

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