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Trade talks with Trump and the race for new pot rules top agenda for premiers' meeting

Trade talks with Trump and the race for new pot rules top agenda for premiers' meeting
From CBC - July 17, 2017

Trade talks with Donald Trump and the race to adopt new rules for legalized pot will dominate the agenda as Canada's premiers gather in Edmonton this week.

With the U.S. president expected to lay out his objectives in renegotiatingtheNorth American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as early as today, the annual summer meeting of the Council of the Federation will be seized with ensuring diverse provincial interests are brought to the table when the federal government begins talks next month.

'We are not afraid to have NAFTAlooked at and negotiated, but I think it's important this does not drag on.' - Nova Scotia Premier StephenMcNeil

Nova Scotia Premier StephenMcNeilis calling for a united front to promote the provinces'various economic drivers from oil andhydro toseafood andrubber.

"What we need to make sure ofand I think this would be a common frontis that provinces would be part of that conversation, that this conversation does not happen without our input, and telling us what those negotiations look like so we can give them the impact of what it would mean to our respective provinces."

Canada's ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton,will take part in Tuesday's session, which will focus primarily on engaging with the U.S. on critical issues likesoftwood lumber and NAFTA.

"We are not afraid to have NAFTAlooked at and negotiated, but I think it's important this does not drag on," McNeilsaid. "We need to make sure investment confidence is still high, recognizing our two countries are linked."

Tuesday's meeting will also include discussions ondomesticeconomic issues such as labour mobility, infrastructure and environmental approvals.

Indigenous leaders boycott

The three-day gathering was to begin today with meetings with five Indigenous groups, but three of the leading groups are boycotting.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Mtis National Council andInuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) told CBC News Friday they are backing out of the meeting because they believe their groups should be included as equal partners at the Council of the Federation meeting.

Leaders of the three groups have scheduled a news conference in Toronto for 11 a.m. ET.

Two other major Indigenous organizations are still planning to attend: the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) and the Native Women's Association of Canada.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who is chairing the meetings, said Wednesday's hearings will be dominated by discussions around justice issues, including regulations on the legalization of cannabis.

Alberta and other provinces have launched consultations with the public and stakeholders to develop rules around age of access, where it can be sold and how to protect public safety. And Notleydid not rule out asking the federal government to put the brakes on its plan for legalization to be in force by July 2018.

Race for pot regulations

Pipeline politics

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