(Bloomberg) -- Top Canadian officials, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, rushed to express support for Ambassador Kelly Craft after a package containing a suspicious substance and a death threat was mailed to the U.S. diplomat.
The incident came as tensions remain high in Canada over a brewing tariff fight, which erupted over Donald Trump’s criticism of Trudeau as “dishonest & weak,” the president’s refusal to endorse the final communique at the Group of Seven summit a week ago, and Canada’s outrage that tariffs have been applied under the pretext of national security.
White powder was found Thursday in an package addressed to Craft at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa and discovered by a mail-room employee at the ambassador’s residence, an embassy official said. The police were contacted, and tests determined the substance wasn’t harmful.
An expletive-filled letter containing death threats against Craft, Trump, and members of Trump’s family was also enclosed, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Trudeau called Craft on Friday to check on her welfare, his office said.
‘Place in Hell’
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, held a previously-scheduled meeting with Craft on Friday about U.S. tariffs. “I also expressed my support for the ambassador following the wholly unacceptable threat against her,” Freeland said on Twitter. “She does an essential and difficult job and Canada respects her service.”
Testing relations between the strong allies, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in a Fox News interview on June 10 that there’s a “special place in hell” for Trudeau. He’s since apologized. Larry Kudlow, Trump’s economic adviser, said the same day that Canada’s leader had “kind of stabbed us in the back.”
The U.S. has set tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, and Canada has retaliated with dollar-for-dollar tariffs on U.S. steel, aluminum and other products including whiskies. The countries are also embroiled in ongoing Nafta talks, punctuated by Trump’s regular threats to quit the three-nation pact. The U.S. has also put tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber and has started the process for potential tariffs on the auto sector, while Trump regularly complains about Canada’s dairy policies.
‘Red, White and Bourbon’
Some prominent members of the Canadian media have said they plan to boycott the U.S. ambassador’s traditional Fourth of July party, and have suggested Canadian cabinet members do so as well.
The Independence Day event of some 5,000 people is typically the U.S. envoy’s biggest of the year in Ottawa. It’ll be the first for Craft, who took up her post in October. A wide range of lawmakers and government officials usually attend.
This year’s party will celebrate “Red, White and Bourbon” in a nod to Craft’s home state of Kentucky, a major bourbon whiskey producer. It will take place days after Canada’s proposed whiskey tariffs are due to go into effect on July 1.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.