June 11, 2017 11:27 am
Updated: June 12, 2017 1:13 pm

‘We are looking to Canada to lead,’ says former Australian PM Julia Gillard

Julie Gillard, former Australian prime minister, says now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken over leadership of the G7, many around the world are looking to him to lead on issues including global education.

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Canada is in a unique position to push for global access to education, says former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, and not least because Justin Trudeau himself is a former teacher.

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“I (will) be echoing Malala (Yousafzai’s) words when she came and spoke at the Canadian Parliament. She said when Canada leads, the world follows and we are looking to Canada to lead,” explained Gillard, who served as Australian PM from 2010 to 2013.

“We believe your prime minister is in such a wonderful and unique place to do that. He was a teacher, he is minister for youth, he certainly gets these issues for the future and he’s taking over leadership of the G7.”

Gillard now devotes much of her time and energy to the Global Partnership for Education, which works in more than 60 developing countries around the world to ensure all children have access to a basic education.

“As we’re having this conversation, around 260 million children around the world who are of school age are out of school,” Gillard explained to The West Block‘s Vassy’s Kapelos.

WATCH: Trudeau highlights importance of education, inspiring youth

Tens of millions more have access to some education, but it’s so sporadic or poorly delivered that they may never learn to read, write or do basic math.

“We know that tomorrow’s economy is going to require people of higher and higher skill levels, so these kids are going to get left behind for the rest of their lives,” said Gillard.

Gillard was in Ottawa last week to attend an event hosted by Global Citizen, and met with local civil society organizations and MPs to discuss Canada’s role in global education initiatives.

Kapelos also asked Gillard about the recent American election and her impression of how Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was treated as a female presidential candidate.

Gillard said that she believes there was some element of gender bias involved in Clinton’s defeat at the hands of Donald Trump, but it certainly wasn’t the only factor or the biggest.

“When I last spoke to the Australian nation, I said that gender wasn’t everything about my prime ministership, but it wasn’t nothing either,” she recalled.

“Gender did have an impact, and I think it’s true it had an impact on the Clinton campaign … I think she did get some differential treatment because she was the first woman contending for that very high office.”

WATCH: Hillary Clinton blasts Trump’s ‘targeting of women’

As for Trump, Gillard said it’s hard to know how she would have related to the unpredictable and outspoken American leader.

“Obviously the personal dynamics would have been different and the policy agendas would have been different,” she said.

“I know of course that Prime Minister Trudeau and his team spend a lot of time thinking through those things given your geography in the world.”

Watch the full interview with Julia Gillard above.

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