Canadian Primer Minister Justin Trudeau has quite wisely declined to risk sickness and death just so Trump can have a photo-op “celebrating” the new agreement between Canada, the US, and Mexico — which is pretty much the same as the old agreement, the most important part being that Obama’s signature won’t be on it. But Trudeau, having gone through a coronavirus scare with his wife — and being generally a sensible person — has decided his health, and the example he sets for his country, mean more to him than giving The Great Bully to the South another campaign prop.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Monday he won’t attend a meeting in Washington this week with President Donald Trump and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico. The meeting was meant to celebrate the official start of the new trade deal between the three countries — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (U.S.M.C.A.).
Mr. Trudeau’s reason for not attending? Scheduling conflicts, he said.
He has virtual cabinet meetings and a “long-planned” session of Parliament, he said. That’s the diplomatic way of saying “I have to do my nails.”
A former adviser to Trudeau was blunter:
“I don’t think Trudeau has any interest in being drawn into American debates on mask-wearing and appropriate health precautions during an epidemic,” Mr. Paris said. . . .
“It’s not clear that a photo op counts as essential,” said Mr. Paris.
If Trump explodes over this — and how can he not? — it won’t be the first time:
The president was so furious with Mr. Trudeau when he said Canadians would not be pushed around at the end of the G7 summit in Canada in 2018 that he lashed out on Twitter, calling his host “very dishonest and weak” as he departed the country.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration discussed reimposing tariffs on Canadian aluminum over concerns about rising exports to the United States.
In spite of those possible tariffs, Trudeau evidently feels he can deal with the Wrath of Trump. In fact, he added a bit of salt to the wound:
Mr. Trudeau did promise [Mexican president] Obrador a visit “as soon as possible” over the phone.
When that would be, his staff would not say.
As a side point, the new agreement replaces NAFTA, negotiated 30 years ago by George H. W. Bush and enacted in 1994 under Bill Clinton. Trump has railed against it for years — but the “new” agreement is very close to the old one, the new parts having mainly been lifted from the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP — which Obama negotiated and which Trump immediately repudiated.