Justin Trudeau gave a great first speech to the United Nations. In it, the Prime Minister of Canada made a surgical strike at the heart of Donald Trump’s campaign without even mentioning the Republican’s name. Not once, not twice, but three times.
Trudeau Spoke Of Anxiety Beyond Canada’s Borders
Within two or three minutes, Trudeau laid the groundwork by talking about the anxiety — especially economic anxiety — that has seized not only Canadians, but also ‘others’ outside of his country:
When leaders are faced with citizens’ anxiety, we have a choice to make. Do we exploit that anxiety or do we allay it? Exploiting it is easy.
The Prime Minister then insisted that specific answers are required:
We believe that we should confront anxiety with a clear plan to deal with its root causes.
Part of that plan is to bring people together, not drive them apart.
Because what is the alternative? To exploit anxiety? To turn it into fear and blame? To reject others because they look or speak or pray differently than we do?
You see, in Canada, we got a very important thing right. Not perfect, but right. In Canada, we see diversity as a source of strength, not weakness. Our country is strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them.
By now, it should be clear that Trudeau was drawing a line between what is happening ‘in Canada’ and what is happening in the United States, where candidate Donald Trump deliberately stokes fears.
The U.S. Used To Be More Like Canada — Didn’t It?
Americans used to know that U.S. strength also came from our diversity. At least, progressives knew that and believed that it was an American value. Donald Trump has brought out the shocking truth that many other Americans, largely conservatives, hold deep fears about people who are ‘different’ — fears that can be easily exploited to no one’s benefit but Donald Trump’s.
The Prime Minister acknowledged Canada’s failings in this area, but his ‘recommitment’ to embracing diversity puts both Donald Trump and far right politicians like Texas Governor Greg Abbott to shame. Trudeau focused a laser beam on how Canada is dealing with Syrian refugees — as opposed to Trump, who wants to put an end to their immigration to the U.S., and Abbott, who on Friday withdrew Texas from participation in the federal government’s resettlement program.
Trudeau pointedly said:
In recent months, Canadians have opened their hearts and their arms to families fleeing the ongoing conflict in Syria. And from the moment they arrived, those 31,000 refugees were welcomed not as burdens, but as neighbors and friends and as new Canadians.
His focus then stayed on Canadian efforts to bring the new refugees into the middle class. He demonstrated compassion by comparing his citizens’ anxiety to what the refugees faced in Syria — namely, catastrophe. But through his recounting, he kept reaffirming the refugees’ humanity and their desire to reach the same goals for which Canadians strive. Trudeau also reaffirmed Canada’s ability to help the middle class prosper.
Trump’s Hate Will Solve Nothing
By the end of the speech, Trudeau re-emphasized the problems that were seeded in the United States by Donald Trump’s hate:
We are determined to build an economy which works for everyone, not only for the richest 1%… We are going to refuse to give in to pressure to change our most profound innermost ideas to win easy votes. People of the world expect more from us and we expect more from ourselves.
There is a choice to [be] made. Strong, diverse, resilient countries like Canada didn’t happen by accident and they won’t continue without effort. Every single day, we need to choose hope over fear, diversity over division. Fear has never created a single job or fed a single family. And those who exploit it will never solve the problems that have created such anxiety.
Was Donald Trump listening? Without a doubt, he was not — because he values his own short-term gain over the well-being of the country.
The rest of America is a different question. If anyone is listening, the challenge is clear. Reject the hate. Choose hope over fear.
Watch Trudeau’s full speech here:
FEATURED IMAGE: Justin Trudeau at United Nations, screenshot from YouTube video.