Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the issue of the Philippines’ brutal anti-drug campaign during a quick meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday morning on the margins of the ASEAN summit in Manila.
Trudeau has long branded himself as the defender of human rights, and said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon in Manila that he expressed to Duterte Canada’s concern with the gratuitous killings around the Southeast Asian nation.
“I emphasized the people-to-people ties between Canada and the Philippines and the great connections there, but I also mentioned human rights, the rule of law and specifically the extrajudicial killings as an issue that Canada is concerned with,” Trudeau said.
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The prime minister said the meeting with the Philippines’ president took place before he was to address the Canada ASEAN commemoration summit in Manila.
“Canada has earned a strong reputation for having strong always frank and sometimes firm discussions around rule of law and human rights with partners around the world. People expect it and it comes as no surprise when it comes up,” Trudeau continued during the conference.
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Trudeau also said that Duterte was receptive to his comments, calling the exchange “pleasant” and “approachable.”
The prime minister has been given a rare opportunity, by Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, to address the East Asian Summit. It’s a powerful security group which includes the likes of Russia, China, India, Japan and the United States.
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Senior government officials say “the Philippines have gone out on a limb,” to give Trudeau this opportunity, which had many wondering whether Trudeau would broach the subject of Duterte’s so-called war on drugs.
Host leaders are allowed to invite someone to address the leaders lunch, but rarely do.
The prime minister is in Manila for the fiftieth anniversary of the ASEAN. Canada is celebrating 40 years of engagement with the 10-nation group.
Trudeau is the first ever sitting prime minister to attend the ASEAN summit and has been afforded the rare honour of addressing 18 leaders of the powerful security alliance.
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Global Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters. “This is the top security table in the Asia-Pacific.”
Canada was not invited to the actual meeting of the powerful nations but rather the lunch before. Still, it’s an opportunity for Canada to convince the leaders our country should be included in the group.
Our government believes it can help de-escalate tensions with North Korea and wants to be part of the solution to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
If Canada has managed to prove its worth and join the EAS, it would help the Trudeau government’s ongoing campaign to win a much-coveted seat at the United Nations Security Council.
Canada needs a two-thirds majority of the 193 United Nations members to get the non-permanent UN Security Council seat in 2020.
The last two countries to be absorbed into the East Asia Summit were Russia and the United States. A senior government source said there are no indications the group is looking for members, especially since Canada has been told the EAS already found it challenging to absorb those new members.