Chrystia Freeland hopes to save free trade with Europe

Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland will meet European politicians in Montreal, Germany and Slovakia over the next week

WASHINGTON — Canada’s trade minister is flying to meetings in different countries over the coming week in an attempt to save a trade agreement with the European Union.

Chrystia Freeland will meet European politicians at a progressive forum in Montreal, speak in Germany to a congress of the centre-left Social Democratic party, then address a supper gathering of European trade ministers in Slovakia.

The agreement faces opposition, particularly from the European left.

Freeland says the Liberals have tried to address concerns over things like labour and environmental standards, in an effort to get the deal ratified by European lawmakers three years after an agreement-in-principle was announced by the previous Harper government.

She says it’s important now to ratify the agreement and demonstrate that anti-globalization forces can be beaten.

She made the remarks to reporters in the U.S. — where the trade-bashing Donald Trump has been rising in recent polls.

Freeland said surging protectionist sentiment is complicating the process of reaching a new softwood lumber agreement with the U.S.

She said the two countries are making an honest attempt at bridging fundamental differences, but Canada is also preparing for the possibility of a new round of court battles as repeatedly experienced over this issue in the past.

“There are some big differences,” Freeland said.

“We’re looking for a good deal — not just any deal. … If it does go to litigation we’re prepared for that too.”

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