Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson to skip U.S. Embassy party over trade disputes

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is letting his frustrations with U.S. attacks on Canadian industries known by skipping the U.S. ambassador's annual party.

Watson says he has 'politely declined' to attend annual July 4 event

Mayor Jim Watson said on Wednesday that he would not be attending next week's party at the U.S. Embassy. (CBC)

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is skipping the U.S. ambassador's annual party in protest over U.S. attacks on Canadian industries.

The U.S. ambassador to Canada traditionally throws a large party on July 4, Independence Day, a national holiday south of the border, at the ambassador's official residence in Ottawa.

The event, hosted this year by Ambassador Kelly Knight Craft, often attracts thousands of people from Ottawa's political circles.

The annual party will be held at Lornado, the official residence of the U.S. ambassador to Canada. (Chris Rands/CBC)

Watson said with the current U.S. administration he didn't think it was right to attend.

"I've politely declined because I'm not happy with the direction of the American government and their constant attacks on our country," he said.

The U.S. has imposed tariffs on several Canadian industries and threatened more, Watson said. While he says he is not trying to make a scene, he doesn't feel it would be right to attend.   

"I don't want to show up to something that I don't feel comfortable with on a principle point of view, seeing what's happening with these constant threats to our steel industry, aluminum, our car industry, our dairy industry."

Coun. Mathieu Fleury is also declining his invitation. He said he has no problem with the local embassy staff, but has been disappointed with both the U.S. trade policy and their stance on refugees and migrants.

"For me it would be hypocritical to be critical of the Trump administration and then attend this event."

Conservative MP Lisa Raitt said she will be attending the event. On CBC News Network's Power & Politics she said she doesn't usually make the trip back to Ottawa for the party but this year she feels it's important.

"Now is the time to have open lines of communication with our friends in the United States," she said.

Mayor Jim Watson says he won't be attending the U.S. Ambassador's Fourth of July party because he's not happy with the direction of the American government. 0:28