“We wish the United States and Mexico well at Wednesday’s meeting,” Trudeau spokesperson Chantal Gagnon told HuffPost Canada via email Monday.
“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.”
Watch: Trudeau touts USMCA at auto-parts plant
Trudeau’s decision to stay put means he can be in the House of Commons Wednesday when Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveils an economic “snapshot” that will give some sense of where the economy is headed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has estimated the deficit could top $250 billion this fiscal year.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), also known as the new NAFTA, officially came into force on July 1. Gagnon said the trade pact is “good for Canada, the United States, and Mexico,” and will “help ensure that North America emerges stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Gagnon also said no representative would be sent in Trudeau’s stead.
Speaking with reporters in Gatineau, Que. Friday, Trudeau said his office was in discussions with U.S. officials about whether a trilateral summit to mark the deal “makes sense” — and not just because of concerns about COVID-19.
“We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently,” he said, referring to reports from Bloomberg and the New York Times that the Trump White House is considering re-imposing 10 per cent tariffs on aluminum from Canada.