QUEBEC - The new Quebec government says its support for a Canada-Europe free trade agreement is not yet certain and is warning that it should not be treated as a fait accompli.
The Parti Quebecois government said Wednesday that 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, said in an interview that he's "moderately optimistic" that the province will eventually support the deal — but he has some concern about going too far in liberalizing certain industries.
The PQ government says it's 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 PQ made that same criticism in opposition while confronting the previous government of Jean Charest, who was among the staunchest and earliest proponents of a Canada-EU deal.
The new 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 an early supporter of Canada-U.S. 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 on the heels of optimistic talk from Ottawa.
The federal trade minister, Ed Fast, said this week that a trade deal is achievable by year's end and that a conversation with Lisee had reassured him that the PQ government remained on side.
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The 10 Best Countries To Do Business
See where Canada falls in the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2011/10/03/the-best-countries-for-business/" target="_hplink">Forbes rankings of the best countries in the world in which to do business</a>.
10. The United States
The world's largest economy just snuck into the top 10 on Forbes' list of best countries for business. The magazine cited the nation's heavy tax burden as one of the reasons why it did not place higher. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
9. The United Kingdom
A historic leader in global trade and finance, the United Kingdom placed a strong 9th place. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Oil boosts the economy of this Scandinavian powerhouse. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Iconic global brands such as Ikea, Ericsson and H & M call Sweden home. (Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images)
A key global shipping hub, Singapore, is one of the best places in Asia to do business. (Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)
The third Scandinavian country on the list, Denmark fell from the top spot on Forbes' ranking. (Getty Images)
Despite being hit hard by the recent economic crisis, Ireland placed a respectable fourth on the list. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
3. Hong Kong
Home to the iconic Hang Seng index, Hong Kong's exposure to China and reliable institutions make it one of the world's best places for business. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
2. New Zealand
Punching above its weight is the southern nation of New Zealand. The country only has fewer than 4.5 million people but its the runner-up on Forbes' list. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
The CN Tower looms over the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers as the Rogers Centre's roof is open for the first time in the 2011 MLB baseball season in Toronto Saturday, May 7, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)