Trudeau says he discussed USMCA with Mexico’s incoming president – National

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has discussed the revamped North American free trade deal with Mexico’s incoming president.


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In a statement Friday, Trudeau said he spoke Thursday with president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who begins his term on Dec. 1.

The prime minister said the pair talked about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which “removes uncertainty and supports stronger investment and exports.”

The two leaders also touched on disputed American steel and aluminum tariffs, imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump in June on national security grounds.

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Canada and Mexico responded to the tariffs by imposing their own retaliatory levies on U.S. imports.

Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, said at a business summit Friday in southwestern Ontario that Trump is reviewing the tariffs meant to protect U.S. industry.

“That is not something that is against Canada, it’s just something that’s protecting North America from other countries that will be passing raw materials through, and also to protect our steel industry at home,” she said.


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David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., told the same Ontario Chamber of Commerce event that he hopes the U.S. tariffs will be lifted shortly, now that the new trade agreement is settled.

“I’m hoping that the steel and aluminum tariffs come off soon. Clearly during the negotiations the president made a point on several occasions, as did members of Congress, that the (tariff) action was not so much suggesting Canada was a national security threat, but to exercise leverage.”

The talks between Canadian and Mexican leaders came just days after Mexico’s future foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, was in Ottawa with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Ebrard suggested the tariffs could be lifted once the new North American trade deal is signed.

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Crucifix represents Christian values but isn’t a religious symbol, Quebec’s incoming premier says

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The crucifix hanging in Quebec’s National Assembly is a historical symbol, not a religious one, even though it represents the Christian values of the province’s two colonial ancestors, premier-designate François Legault said Thursday.

Legault made the comments as he defended his decision to keep the crucifix in the legislature while moving forward with plans to ban certain civil servants from wearing religious symbols.

« We have to understand our past, » Legault told reporters in Yerevan, Armenia, where he is attending the summit of the Francophonie.

The crucifix, he said, invokes the role of French Catholics and British Protestants in Quebec’s history. He made no mention of Indigenous people.

The crucifix has hung above the Speaker’s chair in the National Assembly since it was installed there in 1936. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)  

« In our past we had Protestants and Catholics. They built the values we have in Quebec. We have to recognize that and not mix that with religious signs. » 

The crucifix was installed above the speaker’s chair in the National Assembly in 1936. A government-commissioned report into secularism and identity issues recommended in 2008 that it be removed, but no government has done so.  

A delicate issue

Since his Coalition Avenir Québec won a majority in last week’s provincial election, Legault has said one of his priorities will be preventing civil servants in « positions of authority » from wearing religious symbols, such as hijabs and kippas.

Among those to be affected are police officers, provincial judges, prison guards and teachers. The move is necessary, according to Legault, in order to protect Quebec’s secular society. 

He raised his plans in a meeting earlier Thursday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is also in Yerevan attending the Francophonie summit and who has publicly opposed Legault’s proposal. 

« This is a … delicate issue with Mr. Trudeau, » Legault said in an interview with Radio-Canada.

« I told him I want to do this quickly. It’s an issue that has lingered for 10 years, and now there is a consensus in Quebec. »

Asked whether he feared a confrontation with Ottawa over the issue, Legault added: « Quebec is a nation. It is a distinct society. We have support. We just received a clear mandate in the election. I think all that has to be taken into account. »

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Quebec’s incoming premier, François Legault, in Armenia on Thursday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Quebec’s new immigration model

Along with religious symbols, Legault also raised his immigration polices with Trudeau.  

The incoming premier informed the prime minister that Quebec intends to accept 20 per cent fewer immigrants next year.

Legault also told Trudeau that Quebec will add language and value requirements for immigrants seeking to settle in the province.

Though immigration falls under federal jurisdiction, Quebec has an agreement with Ottawa that allows it to select its own economic immigrants.

According to Legault’s account of the meeting, Trudeau raised the possibility that Quebec would be able alter how it selects immigrants without reopening that agreement.

« He wasn’t certain that we would need to modify the agreement between Quebec and Ottawa, » Legault said in the Radio-Canada interview.

He added that representatives from the province would meet federal officials in the coming weeks to detail the « new immigration model that my government will put in place. »  

Legault is scheduled to appoint a cabinet next week.

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‘Legault has got to go’: Thousands in Montreal march to protest racism, incoming premier

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A Thanksgiving weekend protest in downtown Montreal drew thousands to the streets on Sunday, with demonstrators denouncing racism and a law being proposed by Quebec’s incoming premier, the Coalition Avenir Québec’s François Legault.

Protesters chanted, « Legault has got to go » and « François, Quebec belongs to me » as they marched from Place Émilie-Gamelin​ along René-Lévesque Boulevard. 

The CAQ, which won a majority in last week’s provincial election, is promising to introduce a law prohibiting civil servants — including judges, police officers, prosecutors and teachers — from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. Legault has yet to be sworn in as premier.

A representative for the CAQ government said Wednesday that those who don’t comply with the coming law could be re-assigned or lose their employment altogether.

Protester Nadjah Oumid says she thinks it’s sad that people wouldn’t be able to access certain jobs because they wear a hijab. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

People filmed the march on their phones and protesters lit a smoke bomb on René-Lévesque that sent red smoke into the air. Upbeat music played and protesters carried a large banner that said: « Together against hate and racism. »

Many of the protest attendees donned religious symbols. Nadjah Oumid was one of them.

« The hijab, for me, is like a part of me, » Oumid said. « I think the government shouldn’t oppress people for what they want to wear. »

She said she thinks it’s sad that people wouldn’t be able to access certain jobs because they wear a hijab.

Another protester, Sonia Haddad, says she wanted to take a stand against racism for her children.

Protesters chanted « Legault has got to go » and « François, Quebec belongs to me » as they marched from Place Émilie-Gamelin​ along René-Lévesque Boulevard. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

« We’re part Arabic, part Quebecois… so I think all of us together, we have to really be in solidarity, » Haddad said.

« I’m very scared of what’s happening in politics right now in Quebec, » she said.

With files from CBC reporter Antoni Nerestant

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