U.S. President Barack Obama arrived to a thunderous standing ovation in the House of Commons and left with the crowd chanting "four more years." His nearly 50-minute speech on Wednesday was a mix of playful, pragmatic and passionate – a passing of the baton, of sorts, to his Canadian counterpart, who dubbed their relationship a "dudeplomacy."
Mr. Obama used his final address in Canada to speak of an "extraordinary alliance and deep friendship" between Canadians and Americans, and to make a plea for greater tolerance in a world that is turning increasingly inward. He finished his speech with a simple message: "Let's stay true to the values that make us who we are, Canadians and Americans, allies and friends, now and forever."
The outgoing President touched upon a number of topics – which resulted in a number of standing ovations – throughout his speech. Here are some highlights:
On tolerance: "In moments like this, we are called upon to see ourselves in others, because we were all once strangers. If you weren't a stranger, your grandparents were strangers, your great-grandparents were strangers. They didn't all have their papers ready. They fumbled with language, faced discrimination, had cultural norms that didn't fit. At some point somewhere, your family was an outsider."
On immigration: "The vibrancy of our economies are enhanced by the addition of new striving immigrants. But this is not just a matter of economics. Refugees escape barrel bombs and torture, migrants cross deserts and seas seeking a better life. We cannot simply look the other way. We certainly can't label as possible terrorists vulnerable people who are fleeing terrorists."
On gay, lesbian and transgender rights: "It's because we respect all people that the world looks to us as an example. The colours of the rainbow flag have flown on Parliament Hill. They have lit up the White House. That is a testament to our progress, but also the work that remains to ensure true equality for our fellow citizens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."
On equality between men and women: "In Canada, a woman has already risen to the highest office in the land. In America, for the first time a woman is the presumptive nominee of a major party, and perhaps president. I have a bias on these issues. But our work won't be finished until all women in our country are truly equal, paid equally, treated equally, given the same opportunities as men, when our girls have the same opportunities as our boys. That's who we need to be."
On Muslims: "Our Muslim friends and neighbours who run businesses and serve in our governments and in our armed forces and are friends with our children, play on our sports teams, we've got to stand up against the slander and the hate levelled against those who look or worship differently. That's our obligation. That's who we are. That's what makes America special. That's what makes Canada special."
On the military: "As your ally and as your friend, let me say that we'll be more secure when every NATO member, including Canada, contributes its full share to our common security. The Canadian Armed Forces are really good."
On his first visit to Ottawa in 2009: "Canada was the very first country that I visited as President. It was in February. It was colder. I was younger. Michelle now refers to my hair as the Great White North. On that visit, I strolled around the ByWard Market, tried a Beavertail, which is better than it sounds. And I was struck then, as I am again today, by the warmth of Canadians."
On hockey: "Our only battles take place inside the hockey rink. Even there, there is an uneasy peace that is maintained. As Americans, we, too, celebrate the life of Mr. Hockey himself, the late, great Gordie Howe. Just as Canadians salute American teams for winning more Stanley Cups in the NHL."
On Canadian and American ties: "Our relationship is so remarkable precisely because it seems so unremarkable. Which is why Americans often are surprised when our favourite American actor or singer turns out to be Canadian."
On climate change: "There is one threat, however, that we cannot solve militarily, nor can we solve alone. And that's the threat of climate change. Now climate change is no longer an abstraction. It's not an issue we can put off to the future. It's happening here, in our own countries. … This is not a conspiracy. It's happening."
On First Nations: "More than any other system of government, democracy allows our most precious rights to find their fullest expression, enabling us through the hard, painstaking work of citizenship to continually make our countries better, to solve new challenges, to right past wrongs. And, Prime Minister, what a powerful message of reconciliation it was here and around the world when your government pledged a new relationship with Canada's First Nations."