Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declined an invitation to the White House to celebrate the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
In a statement released on Monday, spokesperson Chantal Gagnon cited a scheduling conflict as the reason for the decline.
“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.
Gagnon also commended the trade deal that went into effect on July 1 insisting it “is good for Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It will help ensure that North America emerges stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to commemorate the USMCA.
Due to the coronavirus, Trudeau has been conducting all meetings via video conference since he and his wife both tested positive for the virus.
A Trump administration official confirmed to the Associated Press that Trudeau would not have been able to attend the start of Parliament due to current quarantine requirements.
Due to the pandemic, Canada now requires residents traveling abroad to quarantine for 14 days upon their return. If Trudeau were forced to quarantine, he would miss the start of Parliament.
Trudeau’s decline comes just days after he alluded to the possibility of skipping the meeting as he noted ongoing concerns about the pandemic and tariff threats from the United States.
During his press briefing on Friday, Trudeau discussed the upcoming meeting with Trump and Obrador.
“We’re still in discussions with the Americans about whether a trilateral summit next week makes sense,” Trudeau said.
“We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently,” Trudeau continued. “We’re also concerned about the health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries.”