September 14, 2017

Christopher Sands, Director of Canadian Studies
Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario

As the US debates a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seeking more favorable terms, Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne made the case to the Johns Hopkins SAIS community that trade relationships under NAFTA are more important to American workers than any other trade agreement. Nearly 9 million US jobs are directly tied to trade and investment with Canada, Wynne said. 

Wynne noted that Canada has switched sides on this issue over the years. In the 1976 it was the US that tried to convince a skeptical Canada on free trade, as US Ambassador Thomas Enders gave a speech in Toronto making the case for freer trade. Today, businesses in both countries have become more globally competitive as a result of NAFTA, Wynne said. She acknowledged that our economies have changed since the agreement was adopted. However, she emphasized that "Blaming trade for our economic challenges does not just miss the point, it misses the enormous opportunity that we have to modernize NAFTA, build a fairer economy, and stay competitive in the world."

To address challenges including increases in economic inequality experienced by workers, Wynne suggested policymakers should focus on Canadian and American common objectives of growth, fairness, and good jobs in a competitive economy.

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