U.S. President Barack Obama got a rock star’s welcome on Parliament Hill Wednesday, during what is likely his last visit to Canada as leader of the United States.
Obama was in Ottawa for the Three Amigos summit, along with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
“Finally this House gets to see a bromance up close,” said Trudeau, as he introduced the president, adding he prefers the term “dude-plomacy.”
Trudeau paid tribute to Obama’s time in office, noting his commitment to gender equality, environmental protection and civil rights.
“Lessons you taught us not by executive order, but by example,” Trudeau said.
At the podium, Obama reminisced about trying a beaver tail for the first time, “which is better than it sounds,” took a jab at Canadians with a mention of each country’s Stanley Cup count, and said he was “struck” by the warmth of Canadians.
While Obama’s tone was jovial, his following speech made one thing clear: the job as leader cannot be taken lightly.
“Justin, thank you for your very kind words and for the new energy and hope that your leadership has brought to your nation as well as the alliance.
“My time in office may be nearing an end, but I know that Canada and the world will benefit from your leadership for years to come.”
Sounding off on climate change, global security efforts, trade and global development, Obama highlighted work that has been done, and the long road ahead.
Obama praised Canada’s history as a refuge for U.S. slaves, Trudeau reconciliation efforts with Canada’s Indigenous people and Canada’s welcoming of refugees from around the globe.
“The world has been inspired as Canadians across this country have opened up their hearts and their homes,” Obama said before praising Trudeau.
“We’ve seen your prime minister welcome new arrivals at the airport and extend a hand of friendship and say, ‘you’re safe at home now.'”
The American president warned against income inequality, and the need for social safety nets.
That must extend beyond borders, Obama said, as wealthy countries cannot thrive without global development. Efforts must be made to combat poverty, lack of resources, and preventable diseases in developing nations.
“It spills over. As much as we’d like to pretend we can block it out,” Obama said. “We have the chance to end the outrage of extreme poverty.”
As for trade, drawing a line around your border will not strengthen an economy, the U.S. president explained.
“If our democracies seem incapable of assuring broad- based growth and opportunity for everyone, then people will push back out of anger or out of fear,” he said.
“And politicians – some sincere and some entirely cynical – will tap that anger and fear, hearkening back to bygone days of order and predictability and national glory, arguing that we must rebuild walls and disengage from a chaotic world, or rid ourselves of the supposed ills brought on by immigrants, all in order to regain control of our lives.”
Climate change is a matter of national security, and “it is happening now. It is happening here in our own countries.” And Canada and the U.S. are “going to have to lead the way.”
He also made a plea for additional military support.
“The Canadian Armed Forces are really good. And if I could borrow a phrase: the world needs more Canada. NATO needs more Canada. We need ya.”
During Obama’s roughly 45-minute speech, he received countless standing ovations.
“Canadians and Americans, allies and friends, now and forever,” Obama concluded, to a standing ovation and crowd chant of “four more years.”