Former U.S. president Barack Obama made a point of highlighting his admiration for Justin Trudeau at an event in Halifax, saying the prime minister’s approach to politics is close to his own.
Obama, who endorsed Trudeau toward the end of the recent federal election campaign, made the remarks during a one-hour question-and-answer session before a sold-out crowd of 9,000 on Wednesday at the Scotiabank Centre.
The former U.S. president mentioned Trudeau and former prime minister Stephen Harper when he was asked to talk about the greatest challenges facing Canada-U.S. relations.
Obama says that of all the things he stresses about, Canada-U.S. relations is not one of them.
He went on to say that despite his affinity for Trudeau’s approach to politics, he was able to do “good work” with Harper, despite their differences.
The event took place against the backdrop of an historic event earlier in the day in Washington, D.C., where the first public hearing was held in the impeachment inquiry for U.S. President Donald Trump – but Obama never mentioned Trump by name during the Halifax event.
“U.S. and Canadian values are so strongly aligned,” Obama, 58, told the crowd. “Let’s face it. When you guys show up in the U.S., we can’t tell you’re Canadian half the time. You’re infiltrating us, and we don’t know it.”
The crowd in Halifax was a mixture of all ages and backgrounds. Some of the thousands of attendees told Global News they were overjoyed with the event.
“I thought it was really important when he was talking about listening, I think it’s important to listen because that’s the only way we can learn,” said Martha Avery.
Kendra Gannon, a 16-year-old student from Citadel High School, was one of 100 young Nova Scotians who wrote an essay and won the opportunity to attend the event.
She said she was left inspired and motivated by Obama’s words.
High School student Kendra Gannon is one of 100 young Nova Scotians who wrote an essay and won the opportunity to attend tonight's event. She said she loved it and came away feeling inspired and motivated. pic.twitter.com/JZrspc1zqJ— Jeremy Keefe (@Jeremy_Keefe) November 14, 2019
Brooklyn Johnson, a second-year student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., felt that Obama’s discussion on the future of the world was one of his most poignant topics.
“He made a really good point of how we need to focus on our youth because it’s our future, it’s our generation. It’s what we need to see in our world is that change,” Johnson said.
With files from Jeremy Keefe
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2019.