By Doug Long

OTTAWA: Nov. 11, Reuter: President Reagan’s decision to speak out next week in support of the proposed Canada U.S. free trade agreement has touched off a controversy over U.S. interference in Canada’s November 21 Federal Election.

Although the speech could help Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s efforts to win a second term for his conservative government, opponents also say the move could backfire.

The conservatives and opposition liberals who have vowed to tear up the agreement if they are elected are running neck and-neck according to three recent opinion polls.

The trade agreement, the central issue in the campaign is strongly supported by Reagan and the deal has already cleared all legislative hurdles in the United States.

But it will only be implemented as scheduled on January 1 if the Mulroney government wins a majority.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said on Thursday that Reagan would come to the defense of the agreement as part of a major speech on intern trade policy.

But he denied that the out President was attempting to help Mulroney with a last minute to sway Canadian voters four before the election.

Article extracted from this publication >> November 18, 1988