05/16/2018 11:51 EDT | Updated 05/16/2018 19:58 EDT

Wayne Easter: U.S. Call For NAFTA Sunset Clause Is 'Absolutely Crazy'

He also dismissed demands to scrap supply management.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Liberal MP Wayne Easter holds a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on March 26, 2015.

WASHINGTON — A Canadian MP has told a Washington audience that the American proposal for a sunset clause in a renegotiated NAFTA deal is stupid.

"This idea of a five-year sunset clause is absolutely crazy," Wayne Easter said. "I'll call it as it is: it's a stupid idea."

Speaking at an event organized by the Canadian American Business Council, during a visit to Washington by a delegation of Canadian parliamentarians, the former dairy farmer also dismissed U.S. demands for an end to Canada's supply management policy for dairy products.

"Your dairy industry problem in the United States is not Canada," he said. "Your dairy industry problem is yourselves in the United States. You're producing too much product."

He said supply management provides stability for a sensitive commodity, avoiding either over- or under-supply and catastrophic price swings.

"We see it as a model. And we're going to stand by that model."

His remarks came as the NAFTA countries make what could be a final effort to close an agreement this year.

Easter's view on the sunset clause is shared by the governments of Canada, and Mexico and many people in Washington, although they are less blunt in their opposition.

Kirsten Hillman, Canada's deputy ambassador to Washington, spoke earlier at the same event and also questioned the logic of the clause, although she did so in more diplomatic language.

Hillman said a trade agreement has two purposes, liberalizing trade and providing certainty. She said a five-year sunset accomplishes neither.

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