The Canadian prime minister refused to attend a celebration of a new North American trade agreement, asking to speak to the American president by phone instead.
By World Israel News Staff and AP
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has turned down a White House invitation to celebrate the new regional free trade agreement in Washington with U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Trump and López Obrador are due to meet Wednesday in Washington, but Trudeau spokesperson Chantal Gagnon said Monday that while Canada wishes the U.S. and Mexico well, Trudeau won’t be there.
“While there were recent discussions about the possible participation of Canada, the prime minister will be in Ottawa this week for scheduled Cabinet meetings and the long-planned sitting of Parliament,” Gagnon said.
Trudeau has a fraught history with Trump and was caught badmouthing the American president at a Buckingham Palace event in December 2019. A video of the incident, which included British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Trudeau, went viral.
Trump vowed during the 2016 presidential campaign to renegotiate the previous trade agreement (NAFTA), which he called “the worst trade deal ever made.” Trump succeeded in fulfilling the pledge by concluding the new trade deal, called the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), which forces Canada to open its dairy market to U.S. farmers, among other victories for American interests.
With regard to the USMCA event at the White House this week, a senior U.S. administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be quoted by name, said Trudeau had multiple conflicts related to the start of Parliament and coronavirus regulations which require Canadians who travel abroad to quarantine for 14 days on return. The official said Trudeau has asked to speak with Trump by phone.
Trudeau later spoke with López Obrador by phone and wished him a successful meeting with Trump, the prime minister’s office said.
Gagnon said the new treaty that took effect on July 1 “is good for Canada, the United States and Mexico. It will help ensure that North America emerges stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.”