President Barack Obama used his last North American Leaders' Summit to launch a broadside at the protectionist and anti-immigrant rhetoric of Donald Trump while expressing concern about the impact on the global economy of rising nationalism and Britain's exit from the European Union.
Mr. Obama used a wrap-up news conference and speech to Parliament on Wednesday to assail Mr. Trump – without naming him – for threatening to tear up the North American free-trade agreement and accused him of xenophobia with his call to ban Muslims and erect a wall between the United States and Mexico.
"The politics that scapegoats others, the immigrant, the refugee, someone who seems different than us, we have to call what this mentality is," Mr. Obama told a joint session of Parliament. "A threat to the values that we profess … we have to stand up to the slander and the hate."
Last week's British referendum vote to leave the EU was also driven by anti-immigrant sentiment that is flashing up throughout Europe, inflamed by far-right parties on the continent.
Mr. Obama was cheered as he entered the Commons chamber. He displayed his sense of humour, talking about hockey and famous Canadian actors mistaken as Americans, before he got into his defence of liberalized trade, where he received multiple standing ovations.
In introducing Mr. Obama to Parliament, Mr. Trudeau defended free trade and open immigration policies, including Canada's decision to welcome more than 25,000 Syrian refugees.
"The North American idea that diversity is strength is our greatest gift to the world," Mr. Trudeau said. "No matter where you are from, nor the faith you profess, nor the colour of your skin, nor whom you love, you belong here. This is home."
One day after Mr. Trump delivered his most explicit threat to abolish the NAFTA deal, Mr. Obama warned of the economic harm to working families if the presumptive Republican nominee were to win the presidency in November.
"The prescription of withdrawing from trade deals and focusing solely on your local market, that's the wrong medicine," he said. "Our auto plants, for example, would shut down if we didn't have access to some parts in other parts of the world, so we would lose jobs and the amount of disruption involved would be enormous."
At the news conference, Mr. Trudeau did not make any direct criticism of Mr. Trump, saying he did not want to get involved in the U.S. election, but Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto did not hold back.
Mr. Pena Nieto used even harsher language than Mr. Obama, accusing the billionaire real estate developer of taking "the road to isolation and destruction," even comparing his fiery rhetoric to Nazi fascism.
"In the past, some leaders addressed their societies in those terms. Hitler and Mussolini did that and the outcome – it's clear to everyone – it resulted in devastation," he said when asked what he thought of Mr. Trump's pledge to rip up NAFTA and build a wall between the United States and Mexico. "It turned out to be a tragedy for mankind and we saw that last century."
The U.S. President also debunked Mr. Trump's claims that he is a populist, saying he's never cared about working-class people, who have benefited from globalized trade.
"Somebody else who has never shown any regard for workers, has never fought on behalf of social justice issues," he said, "they don't suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes. That's not the measure of populism. That's nativism. Or xenophobia. Or worse. Or it's just cynicism," he said.
In their discussions at the National Gallery of Canada, the leaders spent considerable time on the ramifications of the Brexit vote on the global economy.
"There are some genuine long-term concerns about global growth if, in fact, Brexit goes through and that freezes the possibility of investment in Great Britain or in Europe as a whole at a time when global growth is weak already," Mr. Obama said.
The President said he and Mr. Trudeau would push the G20 leaders, meeting in China in September, to take measures to stimulate the global economy to offset the financial troubles caused by the British vote to leave the EU.
Mr. Obama acknowledged many workers have been left behind by globalized trade while the richest 1 per cent have profited.
"That is really a problem because if that continues the social cohesion and political consensus needed for liberal market economies starts breaking down," he said. "There is just one problem. Restricting trade or giving into protectionism in this 21st century economy will not work."
Mr. Obama said the onus is on European and North American leaders to raise minimum wages, impose strong labour standards and freer education while making the wealthy pay more in taxes.
The three leaders – who pledged to cut methane gas emissions and set a 50-per-cent target for clean power by 2025 – used the summit to trumpet the prosperity and jobs created by NAFTA since 1994.
The leaders also promised to develop a joint fugitive list and launch a 90-day pilot project to identify and locate foreign fugitives within all three countries.