Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arrived at the United Nations General Assembly on a mission to remind the world that there’s more to Canadian foreign policy than just Donald Trump and North American free trade.
Later Monday, Trudeau used his appearance on a panel discussion on the UNs economic and social council to announce plans to spend $20 million on a Toronto branch of the Global Infrastructure Hub, a public-private mechanism for developing critical infrastructure projects around the world thats part of the UNs sustainable development goals.
Trudeau is beginning his day at the opening of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, where he’s scheduled to deliver brief remarks later this afternoon.
Video: Mandela speech at UN General Assembly on 22 June 1990
While Canada is keen to resume its efforts to secure a coveted seat on the UN Security Council, NAFTA – the government’s main foreign policy preoccupation for the last year – won’t be far from Trudeau’s mind.
PM Trudeau urges world leaders to follow Nelson Mandelas example
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is also at the UN this week, is expected to hold informal talks with U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer as the two sides continue to try to reach a trade agreement before a congressional deadline of Oct. 1.
Video: Pres Ramaphosa addresses Nelson Mandela Peace summit at UNGA
Trudeau is also scheduled to attend a meeting of the UN’s economic and social council to talk about how to finance that group’s efforts to advance sustainable development by the year 2030, and attend a roundtable of leaders in girls’ education.
Justin Trudeau addresses the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
At UN, countries pledge to be guided by Mandelas legacy in working for a better world
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is paying tribute to the late Nelson Mandela by urging world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly to follow his example and champion democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world.
Video: Nelson Mandela legacy lives on at the UN, New York
Trudeau kicked off his visit Monday to the UN by taking part in the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, timed to mark this year’s 100th birthday of the former South African president.
Trump is making his second appearance at the U.N. since taking office in 2017. He will address the General Assembly on Tuesday, when in an annual ritual of diplomacy, heads of government take turns addressing that forum on pressing global issues. Hes expected to redouble his commitment to "America First," while shining a spotlight on the threat that he says Iran poses to the Middle East and beyond through its support for terrorism.
He said while global threats like climate change, armed conflict and other “emerging threats” continue to test the world’s commitment to Mandela’s values, the man known as “Madiba” would only see such challenges as evidence of work still to be done.
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“All have tested the strength of our commitment and the bounds of our compassion,” Trudeau told the assembly hall.
“At times like these, we must remember the example of Nelson Mandela, who believed that we should not despair, for our troubles only bear witness to a job unfinished.”
Trudeau used the occasion to reaffirm Canada’s own commitment to issues like ethnic rights, gender equality and the treatment of Indigenous Peoples.
Back in Canada, meanwhile, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh is midway through a four-day tour of Northern Ontario that will take him to Grassy Narrows today, where hes booked in for a lunch with local community leaders and a meeting with primary school students at the local public school. Hell also get a briefing on mercury from the environmental health team at the Grassy Narrows band council.
Trudeau arrives at United Nations
“As we pay tribute to the legacy of Nelson Mandela, Canada reaffirms its commitment to push forward the work he began. Canada will continue to call out the unfair treatment of racial and ethnic minorities, of women and girls, of Indigenous Peoples,” he said.
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“We will continue to speak up for the refugees of Rohingya, for the Yazidis of northern Iraq, for the people of Venezuela. Canada will always stand tall for democracy, the rule of law and human rights at home and abroad.”
Trudeau had a number of bilateral meetings with world leaders on his summit itinerary Monday, including one earlier in the day with the prime minister of Nepal, who thanked Canada for its humanitarian help following that country’s devastating earthquake in 2015.
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A major item on Canada’s to-do list at this week’s summit is to resume its stalled campaign for a coveted two-year temporary seat on the UN Security Council—an endeavour that has taken a back seat to the government’s efforts to rescue the North American Free Trade Agreement.
And NAFTA surely won’t be far from Trudeau’s mind this week, either—there’s talk of a meeting on the summit sidelines between Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer.
Canada is in the throes of what Freeland has called a “continuous negotiation” with her American counterparts in an effort to join what is currently a bilateral agreement in principle between the U.S. and Mexico before a looming congressional deadline of Oct. 1.
Trudeau was also scheduled later Monday to attend a meeting of the UN’s economic and social council to talk about how to finance that group’s efforts to advance sustainable development by the year 2030, and attend a roundtable of leaders in girls’ education.