July 3, 2016 Leave a comment
On June 29th, 2016, President Obama joined with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the North American Leader’s Summit. Obama was given a warm welcome at the event and his speech to the Canadian Parliament and Prime Minister Trudeau received a number of standing ovations. His reception was strong not only because he mentioned a number of Canadian icons, but also because of the resonance that the dignitaries felt when he mentioned that the US and Canada need to work together, leading the world in demonstrable ways to show racial tolerance and in committing to renewable energy.
Certainly there are transcripts, yet I’ve included the notes that I took, which are extracted highlights of Obama’s address. He stressed many of the values that our two countries share and went on to talk about international trade, security and climate change; mentioning that the latter is not an abstraction, but very real and happening right now.
President Obama stressed tolerance, pluralism and open arms to immigrants and refugees; specifically being inclusive with Muslim communities around the world to provide them with hope and opportunities.
He spoke of the need to respect the dignity of all people, especially those who are most vulnerable and of our commitment to a common creed. We must not waver in embracing our best values. Both of our nations are nations of immigrants who must continue to welcome people from around the world. The vibrance of our economies is enhanced through embracing refugees.
“We can’t label people as terrorists, who are the vulnerable people who are fleeing terrorism.”
With respect to his point of the obvious need to be tolerant and receptive to immigrants and refugees, Obama mentioned Maryam Monsef, an Incoming Liberal (MP) Member of Parliament sitting there in the session. “She was only three years old when her father was killed, caught in bloody crossfire at the border of Iran and Afghanistan. This link in the Ottawa Citizen includes an interview with her.”
Here are my highlights of his speech:
He started by claiming that the long border shared between Canada and the United States has maintained the longest period of peace of any border worldwide.
The transatlantic values we share as liberal based democracies are still strong.
The circumstances of Brexit may be unique to the UK, yet the frustrations people felt are not. Working things out on the short term is one thing, but the long term trends of inequality, dislocation and resulting social division can’t be ignored.
How we respond to the forces of globalization and technological change will determine the durability of an international order that ensures future prosperity for future generations.
We share the values of pluralism, tolerance and equal opportunity.
He referenced a quote; A country is something that is built every day out of shared values” and that.with respect to this, what is true of countries is true of the world.
If our recent financial crisis and recession taught us anything, it is that our countries do better when everyone has an opportunity to succeed.
If a CEO makes more in a day than an employee makes in a year, it is bad for the economy; that worker is not a very good customer for business.
If a young man in Ohio can’t pay his student loans or a young woman in Ontario can’t pay her bills, it tamps down on the possibilities of growth. We need to embrace policies that will lift everybody up.
The measure of an economy is how the people are doing.
We may think that drawing a line around our borders for more control is the way to go. However, restricting trade or giving in to protectionism in this 21st c economy will not work.
When combined with investment, research & development… we can spur the connectivity that makes all of us better off.
We need to look forward, not backward.
Thanks Canada for hosting the negotiations with the Cuban government.
Wealthy countries like ours cannot reach our full potential when other countries around the world are mired in poverty.
With our commitment to new sustainable development goals, we have a chance to end the outrage of extreme poverty. Bring more electricity to Africa, banish the Zika virus, our goal of the first AIDS-free generation. Working to replace corruption with transparent institutions that serve their people.
Development is not charity, it is an investment in our future prosperity. Our own security is enhanced when we step up for all nations to have the right to security and peace.
Multilateralism is not a dirty word. (In 1990, Robert Keohane defined multilateralism as “the practice of coordinating national policies in groups of three or more states.)
We will continue helping forces to push back comprehensively against terrorist networks.
We will work with partners around the world, in contrast to the hatred and nihilism of terrorists. I looked up the word Nihilism = the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.
Being inclusive in particular with Muslim communities; to offer a better vision, path of development, opportunity and tolerance, because they are and must be our partners in this effort.
We will be more secure when every NATO member contributes all of its forces. NATO needs more Canada.
Our two countries are leaders in humanitarian aid. We are going to work as hard as we can to help Syrians to live in peace.
The threat of climate change is not an abstraction. It is happening now. Last year he was the first US president to visit the Arctic. The tundra is burning, permafrost is thawing.
Climate change is not just a moral issue, it is not just an economic issue, it is an urgent matter of our national security.
Carbon emissions in the US are back to where they were two decades ago, even as we’ve grown the economy.
Alberta is working hard to reduce CO2 emissions, while still promoting economic growth.
If Canada can do this, the whole world can do this. We can lead the world. We need to bring it into force this year. The whole world can unleash economic growth while still protecting our planet.
Paris just had the most robust Climate Summit and we need to follow through with implementing these goals.
Let’s generate half our energy from clean energy sources within a decade. This is achievable.
We need to save the planet, and America and Canada are going to have to lead the way.
(As I listened to this I thought to myself that actually Germany is already leading the way in terms of implementing renewable energy. They stopped all nuclear power plants following the Fukushima incident. And in their green revolution, the southern city of Freiburg gets 100 % of its power from renewable energy.)
We believe in the right of all people to have the right to succeed in our society.
What a powerful message of reconciliation around the world when Justin, your government pledged a new relationship with the First Nations.
Democracy is not easy. There are those that offer a politics of “us verses them”, a politics that scapegoats others, the immigrant, the refugee, someone who seems different than us.
We have to call this mentality what it is: a threat to the values that we profess, the values that we seek to defend. It’s because we respect all people that the world looks to us as an example. Our Muslim friends who are our neighbors, serve in our government We need to stand up against the slander and the hatred of those towards people who look or worship differently. Obama mentioned that he has a bias (having two daughters) and wants all woman to have the same opportunities as men.
He professed to the audience not to shy away from speaking about these values of pluralism, tolerance and equality. These are universal values, inalienable rights, the rights of citizens to speak the truth, the rights of journalists to speak the truth.
A respect for the dignity of all people, especially those who are most vulnerable. Our commitment to a common creed. We must not waver in embracing our best values. Both of our nations are nations of immigrants who must continue to welcome people from around the world. The vibrance of our economies is enhanced through embracing refugees. We can’t label people as terrorists, vulnerable people who are fleeing terrorism.
We were all once strangers. Your grandparents were strangers; they fumbled with language, faced discrimination and had cultural norms that didn’t fit. At some point somewhere, your family was an outsider. We will continue to welcome refugees and ensure that we are doing so in a way that maintains our security. We can and we will do both.
Increase our support to central america.
The coming global summit this autumn on refugees, we must step up and meet the needs.
People of good will and compassion show us the way.
How blessed we are to have had people before us, day by day who built these extraordinary countries of ours.
Barack Obama ended his speech saying “What a blessing”…and what a positive and lovely, gentle way to end of speech, to communicate such a positive concept to let this ripple through the room and the world’s stage.
Thank you Barack!
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