Canada's Trudeau issues rallying cry for climate fight and takes a dig at the US
Posted September 21, 2017 2:48 p.m. EDT
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a rallying cry Thursday for the fight against climate change and an implicit rebuke to President Donald Trump, who has announced his intention to pull the US from the Paris agreement to slow global warming.
"There is no country on the planet that can walk away from the challenge and reality of climate change," Trudeau told the United Nations General Assembly in New York. "And for our part, Canada will continue to fight for the global plan that has a realistic chance of countering it. We have a responsibility to future generations and we will uphold it."
Trudeau, who focused heavily on the situation of Canada's native peoples, wove themes of sustainability and people-centered policies through remarks that touched on trade, economic development, the success of women and girls, and the environment.
Maintaining momentum on climate
Trudeau argued that the challenges posed by climate change also present an economic opportunity. "We have a chance to build in Canada and around the world economies that are clean, that are growing, that are forward-looking," the 45-year-old Trudeau said. "We will not let that opportunity pass us by."
In Canada, that will means imposing a tariff on carbon related pollution, which when properly implemented is the best possible way of reducing emissions while growing the economy, he said.
Trudeau also said that Canada continues to work with international partners on climate change, convening a meeting of environmental leaders from more than 30 countries last week "to discuss various ways of pursuing the Paris agreement in order to maintain the international momentum toward a more sustainable future for all."
The Paris accord, adopted in December 2015, allows each signatory country to determine its own contribution to fight global warming and has no mechanism to force a nation to meet a specific target. More than 190 countries have signed it. In July, Trump announced he would withdraw the US from the accord.
Trudeau touched more indirectly on another issue involving the US when he made reference to trade. Canada is currently engaged in negotiations with Mexico and the US to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has repeatedly threatened to leave.
Trudeau, speaking in his second address to the UN General Assembly, has been pushing for more progressive trade policies that include labor rights and union protections and deliver meaningful economic growth "that benefits all of our citizens, not just the wealthiest."
"Strong provisions to safeguard workers rights, protect the environment and ensure the benefits of trade are felt more broadly," Trudeau said. "When we do that, we don't just grow the economy, we live up to our values."
Repairing a dark legacy
Trudeau spent much of his remarks discussing the dark legacy that colonialism and colonial attitudes have wreaked on Canada's native peoples, who even today have trouble accessing good education and basics such as clean water.
Canada, he said, has set about working to address the "great shame" that history represents with a broad review of laws and policies that is meant to "correct past injustices and bring about better quality of life for indigenous peoples of Canada."
"The good news is that Canadians get it," Trudeau said. "They see the inequities, they're fed up with the excuses, and that impatience gives us a rare and precious opportunity to act. We now have before us an opportunity to deliver true, meaningful and lasting reconciliation" with Canada's native peoples.
Trudeau also announced his government would be introducing legislation to give women equal pay for equal work.
While in New York, Trudeau has also been campaigning to give Canada a larger voice on the international stage through one of the rotating seats on the UN Security Council for 2021 to 2022. The last time Canada had a seat on the UN's most powerful body was in 2000.