Canada pushes for better Amazon protection during free trade talks with Brazil

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Canada is forging ahead with trade talks with the South American Mercosur trading bloc, hoping to push Brazil to better protect the critical Amazon rainforest, a government spokesman said Tuesday.The talks are continuing despite Brazil’s initial rejection of international funding to help fight fires in the Amazon, apparently over a personal spat with France’s President Emmanuel Macron.Story continues below

Canada began trade negotiations last year with the four full members of the Mercosur group — Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. There have been six rounds of talks, most recently in June.READ MORE: Brazil rejects $20M offer to fight Amazon fires, accuses Macron of offensive commentsEnvironment groups last week asked the federal government to abandon those talks in a bid to force Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to end the rapid deforestation experts say is partly to blame for the record number of fires burning in the Amazon this year.Tuesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh echoed them, saying in a statement that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “is putting the interests of rich corporations ahead of the fight against climate change by continuing free-trade negotiations with President Bolsonaro.”A spokesman for International Trade Minister Jim Carr said the talks will continue “because we are committed to diversifying our trading partners” but that trade is not the only thing on the agenda.WATCH: Record-breaking wildfires scorch Brazil’s Amazon rainforests

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