Don't count your chickens yet, Quebec says

QUEBEC – The new Quebec government warns that its support for a Canada-Europe free trade agreement is not quite a fait accompli.

The Parti Quebecois government says there are grey areas in the negotiation that need to be clarified before the province signs on.

The new minister responsible for the file, Jean-Francois Lisee has said in an interview that he’s “moderately optimistic” that the province will support the deal — but has some concern about going too far in liberalizing certain industries.

The PQ government is particularly concerned about energy and cultural policy along with some other economic sectors.

It is also critical of the level of transparency in the file and says too little information has filtered out from the negotiations.

The provincial government is organizing an information session Friday in Montreal where Lisee will update industry, union and civil-society groups on the negotiations.

The PQ was among the staunch supporters of free trade in the 1980s but the current incarnation of the party, facing threats from smaller left-wing opponents, has positioned itself farther to the left.

Lisee’s note of caution comes after optimistic talk from Ottawa.

The federal trade minister, Ed Fast, says he believes a trade deal is achievable by year’s end and he says a conversation with Lisee has reassured him that the PQ government remains on side.

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