The new NDP?

The NDP would like you to know that it doesn’t oppose trade.

The NDP has already backed one free trade agreement, with Jordan, and is pushing for expedited negotiations on a deal with Japan. And it’s arguing that Canada should give priority to negotiating similar pacts with India, Brazil and South Africa. Moreover, the party has dropped all talk of rescinding or reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal the NDP has stridently opposed in the past. And it’s urging the World Trade Organization to re-start global trade talks, which the NDP used to protest against.

“The NDP have always been and are very vigorously pro-trade,” NDP trade critic Don Davies insisted in an interview. Still, he conceded there’s some truth to the Tory charge that — until recently — New Democrats haven’t seen a single free trade deal they could bring themselves to support. “I think our position in the past on trade deals has been to look at a trade deal, find three or four things we don’t like and then vote against it,” Davies said. “I’m not sure that that’s the proper way to proceed because any trade deal has pros and cons to it … There’s going to be costs to our economy and benefits to our economy.” But all that has changed under Mulcair. Now, Davies said the party’s policy is to weigh the pluses and minuses of each deal and determine if “overall it’s a net benefit” to Canada.

Meanwhile, Stephen Gordon pans Mr. Mulcair’s refinery talk.