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Trudeau urges world leaders to work together with ‘renewed commitment’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks after receiving the Global Citizen Award from the Atlantic Council in New York, U.S. September 19, 2017.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is warning that long-standing international order is being tested, calling on world leaders to renew their commitment to global alliances such as NATO and multilateral bodies like the United Nations.

Mr. Trudeau made the remarks at an awards gala in New York Tuesday night, ahead of his speech to the UN General Assembly later this week. His push for global co-operation comes on the heels of a largely nationalist speech by U.S. President Donald Trump, who encouraged other leaders to put their countries first in his speech to the world body Tuesday.

"We live in a time where global peace and security, free and fair trade, human rights and liberty, have never been more intertwined – or, in this postwar era, at greater risk and in greater need of our active, focused engagement," Mr. Trudeau said in an address to the Global Citizens Awards gala.

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"Worldwide, the long-established international order is being tested."

The Prime Minister said it is time for democracies to work together to "renew" their commitment to the "universal standards of rights and liberty" through alliances that "have underpinned global security and prosperity since 1945."

"We have to work together on this. Which means a renewed commitment to long-standing alliances such as NATO and NORAD [North American Aerospace Defence Command], and bodies such as the United Nations and the WTO [World Trade Organization]."

His comments came hours after Mr. Trump said other countries can learn from his nationalism while also co-operating with allies to tackle global threats.

"I will always put America first. Just as you … should always put your countries first," Mr. Trump said in his first-ever speech to the General Assembly.

Mr. Trump also threatened to "totally destroy North Korea," intensifying tensions in the ongoing nuclear weapons standoff between the U.S. and the so-called Hermit Kingdom.

Prior to his speech Tuesday night, Mr. Trudeau met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who was also honoured at the gala. The leaders discussed the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear tests and agreed on the need for the international community to implement all UN Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

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In his address, Mr. Trudeau said global security requires the ability to practice "hard power" when needed, highlighting his government's commitment earlier this year to boost military spending by more than $62-billion over the next two decades.

He pointed to "free and fair trade" as another major pillar of global security, emphasizing the need to modernize long-existing trade agreements such as the North American free-trade agreement. As a part of a NAFTA renegotiation process prompted by the Trump administration, Ottawa is playing host to the third round of talks between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico this weekend.

Mr. Trudeau defended his Liberal government's approach to the NAFTA talks, which have focused on gender equity, Indigenous rights, environmental protection and labour standards.

"Some appear to have been confused by this. It's as though they expect us to do trade exactly the same way it was done by our parents a quarter century ago," Mr. Trudeau said.

"Progressive trade is not a frill."

He added that the Canada-European Union free-trade agreement, known as CETA, has set a precedent as the most progressive trade agreement in the world. The agreement comes into force this week.

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Mr. Trudeau concluded his speech by calling for the advancement of human rights and liberty. Reflecting on Canada's role leading opposition to South Africa's apartheid system in the 1980s, he said the world needs to channel that strength again in the fight against intolerance.

"We need to be every bit as strong, every bit as vigilant, in opposing the scourges of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ethnic and religious bigotry, neo-fascism, neo-nazism and the violent extremism of [the Islamic State] that confront us in 2017."

Mr. Trudeau is in New York this week with his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and six cabinet ministers. On Wednesday, he will participate in the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, as well as in a discussion on international development with Melinda Gates. That will be followed by a speech about youth engagement to 6,000 people at Madison Square Garden. He will end his trip by addressing the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

Working with allies is best way to de-escalate North Korea situation: Trudeau (The Canadian Press)
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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Michelle Zilio is a reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau. Previously, she was the associate producer of CTV’s Question Period and a political writer for Michelle has also worked as a parliamentary reporter for iPolitics, covering foreign affairs, defence and immigration, and as a city desk reporter at the Ottawa Citizen. More


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