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'Too little, too late' on trade: Ignatieff

Michael Ignatieff says the deal reached between the Harper government and the Obama administration on Buy American falls short of the government's boasting.

Echoing the words of his trade critic, Scott Brison, Mr. Ignatieff says the deal is "too little, too late."

"While the clock has been ticking most of the stimulus money has been spent," he told reporters this afternoon. "This deal is not going to help Canada nearly as much as this government says."

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He figures most of the "dough" from the nearly $800-billion American stimulus fund has been spent already, noting that he first addressed the Buy American protectionist measures in the Commons a year ago.

As well, he says he brought up the issue when he met with President Barack Obama last February in Ottawa.

The Harper government announced this morning that it had resolved the Buy American dispute, arguing the new agreement will create more jobs and guarantee secure access to the U.S. marketplace.

While Mr. Ignatieff says he doesn't want to "rain on" anything that could help Canada's struggling manufacturing sector, Mr. Ignatieff says, however, there are too many "carve-outs" in the agreement, prohibiting Canadian companies, such as Bombardier, from bidding on public transportation projects.

He was critical, too, of the fact that only 37 American states are involved in the deal.

The Liberal Leader was speaking to reporters in Guelph, Ont. where he was meeting with his MPs and candidates on the party's rural strategy.

Scrumming outside of the nation's capital is a departure for Mr. Ignatieff, who for the past two weeks has been in Ottawa with his caucus. Liberals have held rountable meetings every day to underscore the fact that they are working despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to shut down Parliament until after the Olympic Games.

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In outlining his rural strategy, which involves connecting communities to the Internet as well as agricultural initiatives, Mr. Ignatieff said he did not want to lead a party of the "downtown."

Indeed, this is a problem for Liberals who are increasingly being shut out of small town and rural Canada.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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