Bill Morneau
Federal Finance minister Bill Morneau speaks at an event in Toronto on Monday March 5, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

VANCOUVER — A strong economy is allowing Canadian officials to push for a better deal in negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Tuesday.

Talks on the deal are “critically important” but Canada will remain firm in getting the best possible agreement, he told the Business Council of British Columbia.

“Are there challenges? Yes. Do we need to be prepared to deal with them? Yes. We think that having our economy in the best possible position is the place from which we can do that, make decisions in a measured way, considering all the facts at hand,” he said.

The government’s latest budget included measures to expand trade around the world, particularly in Asia, and the financial plan is fiscally responsible, which means Canada can hold out for a better deal on NAFTA, Morneau added.

“We are going to continue to put forth why we don’t agree with some ideas that were put forth on the table by…