- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2018

President Trump’s tariffs on Canadian products and attacks against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have prompted the mayor of Ottawa, the country’s capital and fourth-largest city, to skip an invite-only Fourth of July party being held at the U.S. ambassador’s residence next week.

Jim Watson, a Liberal Party politician serving as Ottawa’s mayor since 2010, told reporters Thursday that he’s boycotting the U.S. ambassador’s annual Independence Day party over the Trump administration’s recent anti-Canadian sentiments.

“I’ve politely declined because I’m not happy with the direction of the American government and their constant attacks on our country,” Mr. Watson said. “I don’t want to show up to something that I don’t feel comfortable with from a principle point of view of seeing what’s happening with these constant threats to our steel industry, aluminum, our car industry, the dairy industry, and I’ve sent my regrets.”

Mr. Watson, 56, has attended parties at the ambassador’s residence in past years, CTV News reported. Tensions are relatively high between the U.S. and Canada as of late, however, after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, prompting Mr. Trudeau’s government to introduce retaliatory tariffs scheduled to take effect on July 1.

“The United States is acting as a bully to a smaller country, and I think it would be hypocritical of me to sort of show up and accept their hospitality and free food and so on, when we are in the midst of this trade dispute that is going to have serious ramifications for the entire country and employment in this city,” Mr. Watson told CTV earlier in the week, HuffPost reported.

He added Thursday that his reaction was also prompted in part by the president’s recent remarks about Mr. Trudeau, who Mr. Trump called “weak” and “dishonest” as the trade dispute intensified weeks earlier.

“I’m tired, like a lot of other Canadians, of the constant chirping and attacks of the president, whether it’s against the prime minister, against our steel workers, aluminum, cars, dairy products,” Mr. Watson said. “And I think it sends a symbolic signal that I’m not interested in supporting an administration that is constantly attacking our economy.”

“Almost every rally now, Donald Trump attacks Canada. We’re their closest neighbor, their biggest trading partner. We get along, we welcome Americans here, Canadians are welcome in the United States. But it’s the administration that’s constantly barraging us with this kind of puerile attitude that is hurting our economy,” he told CTV.

Earlier this month, meanwhile, Canada’s House of Commons unanimously passed a motion rejecting the Trump administration’s “disparaging ad hominem statements.”

The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Previous Fourth of July parties organized by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa have attracted nearly 4,000 guests, according to its official website.

“I’m not expecting this to create the kind of waves that are going to make any big difference,” Mr. Watson said Thursday. “But I just think, on a principled stand, I have real difficulties with the way the Americans are treating our country and our people and our government. And I don’t want to be a part of a celebration of their country’s anniversary.”

At least two other Canadian politicians have since followed the mayor’s lead, The Ottawa Citizen reported, including City Councilor Tobi Nussbaum and John Fraser, a member of Ontario’s provincial parliament.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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