Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke at the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York City today, where he made references to the “Syrian middle class” as well as politicians who exploit anxiety to forward their own goals, perceived as a jab at U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by the Toronto Star.
Today’s Justin Trudeau speech was the first made by the Canadian PM before the United Nations since his Liberal Party won a majority in the Canadian federal elections, held in October 2015. Trudeau’s Liberal Party win put an end to former Conservative PM Stephen Harper’s two terms as Canadian leader.
Justin Trudeau began his UN address by praising the people of New York City, citing their “resilient and resolute” nature in the face of weekend terrorist bombings, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
“You are a model to the world and we thank you,” Trudeau stated to New Yorkers on behalf of those gathered.
The Canadian PM remembered this time in September 2015, when he was busy traveling across Canada, learning about what issues mattered to Canadians most. He spoke of meeting with Canadians his own age who were attempting to look toward the future with hope, but were troubled by the fact that they were having difficulty making ends meet, even though they were working full time. Trudeau also spoke of young Canadians frustrated with the trap of the difficulty of finding a job with no work experience and how without a job, work experience is difficult to gain.
Justin Trudeau discussed women and girls still facing discrimination and violence today, even in a “progressive country like Canada.”
In French, the Ottawa, Ontario native described eating a meal with a retired couple who had saved their entire lives, only to find their savings run short and be forced to rely on food banks each month.
“Canadians still believe in progress,” Justin Trudeau explained in interpreted French. “Or at least, they believe that progress is possible.”
Trudeau described that “anxiety” is being felt by regular people, even those who have hope for the future.
“Do we exploit that anxiety, or do we allay it?” Justin Trudeau asked the UN General Assembly with regard to what he perceives is being felt by everyday citizens globally.
Trudeau stated that exploiting the anxiety of citizens is “easy.”
“In order to allay it, we need to be prepared to answer some very direct questions,” Trudeau suggested to those gathered.
The Canadian leader then asked a number of “what will” questions that appear to be at the front of his thinking. The PM asked what will bring “well-paying jobs,” what will expand the middle class, what will build a successful economy, and what will help to make the world safer and a better place to live.
Trudeau spoke of creating an economic growth model that allows participation by a broad range of parties.
“A fair and successful world, is a peaceful one.”
Prime Minister Trudeau then spoke of the responsibility of countries to focus on what brings nations together and to reject divisive rhetoric. He described Canada’s place in the Paris Climate Change Agreement earlier in 2016, and Canada’s commitment to spend $205 million over five years toward implementing green growth strategies.
The Canadian PM also reiterated Canada’s commitment to NATO and the United Nations.
“What is the alternative?” Justin Trudeau asked with regard to bringing nations together. “To exploit anxiety? To turn it into fear and blame? To reject others because they look, or speak, or pray differently than we do?”
Justin Trudeau explained how Canada got diversity “right” and how the country views diversity as a “source of strength.”
“Our country is strong, not in spite of our differences, but because of them.”
The Prime Minister then listed examples of when Canada has failed to live up to these standards, including the internment of Italian, Ukrainian, and Japanese Canadians during the World Wars, the turning away of boats full of Punjabi and Jewish refugees, and the “shamefully continuing” treatment of First Nations and Indigenous people.
Within each of these mistakes, Justin Trudeau reflected, Canadians have learned, and continue to learn, better ways.
Trudeau informed those gathered of Canada’s welcoming of 31,000 Syrian refugees whom he described as “neighbors, friends, and new Canadians” to applause from the U.N. Assembly.
The Canadian PM then described an almost “unprecedented” collaboration between the government, businesses, and everyday Canadian citizens aimed at resettling those newly arrived from Syria.
“Refugees are people with the same hopes and dreams as our own citizens,” Justin Trudeau stated unequivocally. “But while our people faced anxiety, Syrians faced catastrophe.”
“Do you want to know where the Syrian middle class is?” Justin Trudeau asked pointedly. “Well they’re living in refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan… Refugee camps are teeming with Syria’s middle class: doctors, lawyers, teachers, and entrepreneurs.”
Toward building Canada’s middle class, Justin Trudeau promised investments in education and infrastructure. The Canadian PM stated a goal of creating an economy that “works for everyone” not only the top 1 percent.
Prime Minister Trudeau then spoke of a “choice” for countries to become strong and resilient like Canada and that the nation’s success has not been an “accident.”
“Every single day we need to chose hope over fear,” Trudeau implored the UN Assembly. “Diversity over division.”
The prime minister then spoke about how fear has never created jobs, or solved problems, and that it only creates anxiety. He also spoke of being Canadian and not being scared of hard work.
“People want their problems solved, not exploited.”
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]