President Obama Addresses Parliament
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President Obama Addresses Parliament

November 28, 2019


(applause) Prime Minister Trudeau: Merci,
Monsieur le President. Female Speaker:: Thank
you, Mr. Speaker. Prime Minister Trudeau: Thank
you, dear friends. It’s wonderful to see
you all here today. Mr. President, it’s an
honor to welcome you to Parliament. On behalf of all
Canadians, welcome to our house. (cheers, applause) Prime Minister Trudeau: Before we begin, I would like to ask we begin, I would like to ask everyone here today to
join us in a moment of silence in memory of those
killed and injured in yesterday’s attack
in Istanbul. Merci. Female Speaker:: Thank you. Prime Minister Trudeau: Mr.
President, the house extraordinary
moments in history. It’s where governments
made the difficult decision to send young
men and women to war. Decisions that forever
changed our country and the world. It was here in 1922 that
Agnes Macphail, our first female member of
Parliament, showed generations of Canadian
girls that yes, they could. (cheers, applause) Prime Minister Trudeau: And now,
finally, this house gets to see a bromance
up close. (laughter) Prime Minister Trudeau: Thanks for making that possible — (laughter) Prime Minister Trudeau: —
although I still think “dude-plomacy” is more
accurate, but I’ll get over it. (laughter) Prime Minister Trudeau: The truth is that, while Barack and I are friends, it’s a
friendship that is far from unique. [speaking foreign
language] Female Speaker:: Be it
through family, friends, social media, or even by
the $2.4 billion in goods and services that cross
our border every day, the links between Canadians
and Americans are everywhere. And it is through those
relationships that we give life to what President
Kennedy stated when he addressed this house:
“What unites us is far greater than
what divides us.” Canadians and Americans
are united in their quest for peace and prosperity. We all want real
opportunities for success. Prime Minister Trudeau: And we
understand that economic growth means most when it
improves the lives of the people who work so hard to
secure it, especially the middle class and those
working hard to join it. And we echo the values of
President Roosevelt, who said the test of our
progress is not whether we add more to the abundance
of those who have so much; it is whether we provide
enough for those who have too little. Canadians and Americans
are also united in our desire to leave to our
children and grandchildren a better world – a safer,
cleaner world – than the one we inherited
from our parents. That’s an ambitious goal,
but not one beyond our reach. Today we made an important
down payment on that cleaner future with the
new Continental Climate Change Strategy. (cheers, applause) Prime Minister Trudeau: And finally, and, at this moment, critically, Canadians and
Americans are united in our understanding that
diversity is a source of strength, not weakness. Generation after
generation, our countries have welcome newcomers
seeking liberty and the promise of a bitter life. And generation after
generation, our identities and our economies have
been enriched by these new perspectives, not
threatened by them. The North American idea
that diversity is strength is our great gift
to the world. No matter where you are
from or the faith you profess, nor the color of
your skin, nor whom you love, you belong here. This is home. (cheers, applause) Prime Minister Trudeau: So let us reaffirm today with our American cousins the
spirit that, 153 years ago, Abraham Lincoln
called “the last, best hope on Earth”: openness,
diversity, inclusion, responsible
self-government, freedom for all people – these
ideas are as important today as they
have ever been. And we will promote
them together. On all these things – on
economic opportunity, on the environment, on
building a more inclusive and diverse society –
Canadians and Americans agree. [speaking foreign
language] Female Speaker:: When
people say that the President and I share a
special relationship, there’s something that
they often don’t realize: We’re not inspired by each
other, but by the people whom we have the
privilege of serving. From the mother who does
overtime in order to pay her rent and buy new
clothing for her daughter and save a little money to
help her parents; from the retiree who gives his time
to teaching children the importance of wetlands;
the communities that come together after a natural
disaster or who walk side-by-side,
hand-in-hand, to affirm the right to
love one another. Prime Minister Trudeau: These are the stories I will think of when I consider
President Obama’s time in office. History books will record
the signature policies, but I will remember —
what I hope we all will remember – are the lessons
that you taught us not by executive order
but by example. That we are accountable — (cheers, applause) Prime Minister Trudeau: The lesson that we are accountable to each other, that we are
stronger together than we are apart, that we are
more alike than we are different, and that there
is a place in this world for politics that is
hopeful, hardworking, ambitious, and kind. Mr. President, in your
last State of the Union Address you said of the
American people that they are clear-eyed,
big-hearted, undaunted, and optimistic. I can think of no better
way to describe their leader. Barack, welcome to Canada. [speaking foreign
language] Female Speaker:: Ladies and
gentlemen, the President of the United States of
America, Barack Obama. (cheers, applause) President Obama:
Thank you so much. Thank you. (applause) Thank you, everybody. (applause) Thank you so much. Thank you. Please, everyone
have a seat. Thank you. (applause) Thank you so much. Good evening. Bonjour. Mr. Prime Minister, Mr.
Speaker, members of the House, members of the
Senate, distinguished guests, people of Canada
— thank you for this extraordinary welcome, which
temps me to just shut up and leave. (laughter) Because it can’t get
any better than this. (laughter) Obviously I’m grateful
for the warm welcome. I’m extraordinarily grateful
for the close working relationship and friendship
with your outstanding Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau,
and his extraordinary wife, Sophie. But I think it’s fair to say
that much of this greeting is simply a reflection of
the extraordinary alliance and deep friendship between
Canadians and Americans. 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 to 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. (applause) So Canada was the very first
country that I visited as President. It was in February. (laughter) It was colder. (laughter) I was younger. (laughter) Michelle now refers to my
hair as the Great White North. (laughter) And on that visit, I
strolled around the ByWard Market, tried a
“beaver tail” — (laughter) — which is better
than it sounds. (laughter) And I was struck then, as
I am again today, by the warmth of the Canadians. I could not be more honored
to be joining you in this historic hall — this
cathedral of freedom. And we Americans can never
say it enough — we could not ask for a better friend
or ally than Canada. (applause) We could not. It’s true. It is true. And we do not take
it for granted. That does not mean we don’t
have our differences. As I understand it, one of
the reasons the Queen chose this site for Parliament was
that it was a safe distance from America’s border. (laughter) And I admit, in the War of
1812, American troops did some damage to Toronto. I suspect that there were
some people up here who didn’t mind when the British
returned the favor and burned down the White House. (laughter) In more recent times,
however, the only forces crossing our borders are
the armies of tourists and businesspeople and families
who are shopping and doing business and
visiting loved ones. Our only battles take place
inside the hockey rink. Even there, there’s an
uneasy peace that is maintained. As Americans, we, too,
celebrate the life of Mr. Hockey himself, the
late, great Gordie Howe. (applause) Just as Canadians can salute
American teams for winning more Stanley
Cups in the NHL. (laughter) Audience: Ooooh — President
Obama: I told you I should have stopped after
the applause. (laughter) But in a world where too
many borders are a source of conflict, our two countries
are joined by the longest border of peace on Earth. (applause) And what makes our
relationship so unique is not just proximity. It’s our enduring commitment
to a set of values — a spirit, alluded to by
Justin, that says no matter who we are, where we come
from, what our last names are, what faith we practice,
here we can make of our lives what we will. It was the grit of pioneers
and prospectors who pushed West across a
forbidding frontier. The dreams of generations —
immigrants, refugees — that we’ve welcomed
to these shores. The hope of run-away slaves
who went north on an underground railroad. “Deep in our history of
struggle,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Canada
was the north star… The freedom road
links us together.” We’re bound as well by the
service of those who’ve defended us — at Flanders
Field, the beaches of Normandy, in the skies
of the Balkans, and more recently, in the mountains
of Afghanistan, and training bases in Iraq. Their sacrifice is reflected
in the silent rows of Arlington and in the
Peace Tower above us. Today we honor those who
gave their lives for all of us. (applause) We’re linked together, as
well, by the institutions that we’ve built to keep the
peace: A United Nations to advance our collective
aspirations. A NATO alliance to
ensure our security. NORAD, where Americans and
Canadians stand watch side by side — and track
Santa on Christmas Eve. (laughter) We’re linked by a vast web
of commerce that carries goods from one end of this
continent to another. And we’re linked by the ties
of friendship and family — in my case, an outstanding
brother-in-law in Burlington. (applause) Had to give Burlington
a shout out. (applause) Our relationship is so
remarkable precisely because it seems so unremarkable —
which is why Americans often are surprised when our
favorite American actor or singer turns out
to be Canadian! (applause) The point is we see
ourselves in each other, and our lives are richer for it. As President, I’ve deepened
the ties between our countries. And because of the progress
we’ve made in recent years, I can stand before you
and say that the enduring partnership between Canada
and the United States is as strong as it has ever been,
and we are more closely aligned than ever before. (applause) And yet, we meet at a
pivotal moment for our nations and for the globe. From this vibrant capital,
we can look upon a world that has benefited
enormously from the international order that we
helped to build together’ but we can see that same
order increasingly strained by the accelerating
forces of change. The world is by most every
measure less violent than ever before; but it remains
riven by old divisions and fresh hatreds. The world is more connected
than ever before; but even as it spreads knowledge and
the possibility of greater understanding between
peoples, it also empowers terrorists who spread hatred
and death — most recently in Orlando and Istanbul. The world is more prosperous
than ever before, but alongside globalization and
technological wonders we also see a rise in
inequality and wage stagnation across the
advanced economies, leaving too many workers and
communities fearful of diminishing prospects, not
just for themselves, but more importantly,
for their children. And in the face of such
rising uncertainty, it is not enough to look at
aggregate growth rates, or stock prices, or the pace
of digital innovation. If the benefits of
globalization accrue only to those at the very top,
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. And politicians — some
sincere, and some entirely cynical — will tap that
anger and fear, harkening 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. We saw some of these
currents at work this past week in the United Kingdom’s
referendum to leave the European Union. Despite some of the initial
reactions, I am confident that the process can be
managed in a prudent, orderly way. I expect that our friends on
both sides of the Channel will develop a workable plan
for how to move forward. And I’m equally confident
that the Transatlantic values that we all share
as liberal, market-based democracies are deeper and
stronger than any single event. But while the circumstances
of Brexit may be unique to the United Kingdom, the
frustrations people felt are not. The short-term fallout of
Brexit can be sensibly managed, but the long-term
trends of inequality and dislocation and the
resulting social division — those can’t be ignored. How we respond to the
forces of globalization and technological change will
determine the durability of an international order
that ensures security and prosperity for
future generations. And fortunately, the
partnership between the United States and Canada
shows the path we need to travel. For our history and our work
together speak to a common set of values to build on
–proven values, values that your Prime Minister spoke
of in his introduction — values of pluralism and
tolerance, rule of law, openness; global engagement
and commerce and cooperation, coupled with
equal opportunity and an investment in our
people at home. As Prime Minister Pierre
Trudeau once said, “A country, after all, is not
something you build as the pharaohs build the pyramids,
and then leave standing there to defy eternity. A country is something that
is built every day out of certain basic
shared values.” What is true of countries
is true of the world. And that’s what I want to
talk about today — how to strengthen our institutions
to advance these commitments in a rapidly changing world. Let me start with our
shared economic vision. In all we do, our commitment
to opportunity for all of our people has to be at the
centerpiece of our work. We are so fortunate because
both of our countries are so well-positioned to succeed
in the 21st century. Our two nations know
firsthand the awesome power of free markets
and innovation. Canadians help run some
of Silicon Valley’s most innovative companies. Our students study at
each other’s world-class universities. We invest in research and
development, and make decisions based on
science and evidence. And it works. It’s what’s created these
extraordinary economies of ours. But if the financial crisis
and recent recession taught us anything, it’s that
economies do better when everyone has a
chance to succeed. For a long time, it was
thought that countries had to choose between economic
growth or economic inclusion. But it turns out
that’s a false choice. If a CEO makes more in a
day than a typical employee makes in a year, that kind
of inequality is not just bad for morale in the
company, it turns out it’s bad for the economy — that
worker is not a very good customer for business. (applause) If a young man in Ohio can’t
pay his student loans, or a young woman in Ontario can’t
pay her bills, that has ramifications
for our economy. It tamps down the
possibilities of growth. So we need growth that
is broad and that lifts everybody up — including
tax policies that do right by working families, and
robust safety nets for those who fall on hard times. As John Kenneth Galbraith
once said, “the common denominator of
progress” is our people. It’s not numbers, it’s not
abstractions, it’s how are our people doing. Of course, many who share
this progressive, inclusive vision can be heard now
arguing that investments in our people, protection
for our workers, fair tax policies, these
things are not enough. For them, globalization is
inherently rigged towards the top one percent, and
therefore, what’s needed is an end to trade agreements
and various international institutions and
arrangements that integrate national economies. And I understand
that vision. I know why it’s tempting. It seems as if we draw a
line around our borders that it will give us more
control, particularly when the benefits of trade and
economic integration are sometimes hard to see or
easy to take for granted, and very specific
dislocations are obvious and real. There’s just one problem:
Restricting trade or giving in to protectionism in this
21st century economy will not work. (applause) It will not work. Even if we wanted to, we
can’t seal ourselves off from the rest of the world. The day after Brexit, people
looked around and said, oh! (laughter) How is this going to work? The drag that economic
weakness in Europe and China and other countries is
having on our own economies right now speaks to the
degree to which we depend — our economies depend, our
jobs, our businesses depend — on selling goods and
services around the world. Very few of our domestic
industries can sever what is now truly a global
supply chain. And so, for those of us
who truly believe that our economies have to work for
everybody, the answer is not to try and pull back from
our interconnected world; it is rather to engage with the
rest of the world, to shape the rules so they’re good
for our workers and good for our businesses. And the experience between
our two nations points the way. The United States and Canada
have the largest bilateral trade and investment
relationship in the world — and we are stronger for it. (applause) It means a company in Quebec
can create jobs in North Carolina. And a start-up in Toronto
can attract investment from Texas. Now, the problem is that
some economies in many of the fastest-growing regions
of the world — particularly the Asia Pacific region —
don’t always abide by the same rules. They impose unfair tariffs;
or they suppress workers’ rights; or they maintain low
environmental standards that make it hard for our
businesses to compete fairly. With the Trans-Pacific
Partnership, we have the ability to not only open
up these markets to U.S. and Canadian products and
eliminate thousands of these unfair tariffs — which,
by the way, we need to do because they’re already
selling here under existing rules, but we’re not selling
as much as we should over there — but it also affords
us the opportunity to increase protections for
workers and the environment, and promote human
rights, including strong prohibitions against human
trafficking and child labor. And that way our workers are
competing on a level playing field, and our businesses
are less prone to pursue a race to the bottom. And when combined with
increased investments in our own people’s education, and
skills and training, and infrastructure and research
and development and connectivity, then we can
spur the kind of sustained growth that makes
all of us better off. (applause) All of us. The point is we need to look
forward, not look backward. And more trade and more
people-to-people ties can also help break
down old divides. I thank Canada for its
indispensable role in hosting our negotiations
with the Cuban government, and supporting our efforts
to set aside half a century of failed policies to begin
a new chapter with the Cuban people. (applause) I know a lot of Canadians
like going to Cuba — (laughter) — maybe because
there haven’t been Americans crowding the streets
and the beaches. But that’s changing. (laughter) And as more Americans engage
with the Cuban people, it will mean more economic
opportunity and more hope for ordinary Cubans. We also agree, us Americans
and Canadians, that wealthy countries like ours cannot
reach our full potential while others remain
mired in poverty. That, too, is not
going to change in this interconnected world; that
if there is poverty and disease and conflict in
other parts of the world, it spills over, as much as we’d
like to pretend that we can block it out. So, with our commitment to
new Sustainable Development Goals, we have the chance to
end the outrage of extreme poverty. (applause) We can bring more
electricity to Africa, so that students can study at
night and businesses can stay open. We can banish the scourge
of malaria and Zika. We can realize our goal
of the first AIDS-free generation. (applause) We can do that. It’s within our grasp. And we can help those who
are working to replace corruption with transparent,
accountable institutions that serve their people. As leaders in global
development, the United States and Canada understand
that development is not charity — it’s an
investment in our future prosperity. (applause) Because not only do such
investments and policies help poor countries, they’re
going to create billions of customers for U.S. and Canadian products, and
they’ll make less likely the spread of deadly epidemics
to our shores, and they’ll stabilize parts of the word
that threaten the security of our people. In fact, both the United
States and Canada believe our own security — and
not just prosperity — is enhanced when we stand
up for the rights of all nations and peoples to live
in security and peace. (applause) And even as there are times
when unilateral action is necessary to defend our
people, we believe that in a world where wars between
great powers are far less likely but transnational
threats like terrorism know no boundaries, our security
is best advanced when nations work together. We believe that disputes
that do arise between nations should be, wherever
possible, resolved peacefully, with diplomacy;
that international organizations should
be supported; that multilateralism is
not a dirty word. (applause) And certainly, we’re more
secure when we stand united against terrorist networks
and ideologies that have reached to the very
doorstep of this hall. We honor all those taken
from us by violent extremists, including
Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall. (applause) With Canada’s additional
contributions, including training Iraqi forces,
our coalition is on the offensive across
Iraq, across Syria. And we will destroy the
terrorist group ISIL. (applause) We will destroy them. We’ll continue helping
local forces and sharing intelligence, from
Afghanistan to the Philippines, so that we’re
pushing back comprehensively against terrorist networks. And in contrast to the
hatred and the nihilism of terrorists, we’ll work with
partners around the world, including, particularly,
Muslim communities, to offer a better vision and a
path of development, and opportunity, and tolerance. (applause) Because they are, and must
be, our partners in this effort. (applause) Meanwhile, when nations
violate international rules and norms — such as
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine — the United States
and Canada stand united, along with our allies, in
defense of our collective security. (applause) Doing so requires a range
of tools, like economic sanctions, but it also
requires that we keep our forces ready for 21st
century missions, and invest in new capabilities. As your ally and as your
friend, let me say that we’ll be more secure when
every NATO member, including Canada, contributes its
full share to our common security. (applause) Because the Canadian armed
forces are really good — (applause) — and if I can borrow a
phrase, the world needs more Canada. NATO needs more Canada. (applause) We need you. We need you. Just as we join together in
our common defense, so must we work together
diplomatically, particularly to avert war. Diplomacy results are rarely
quick, but it turns out even the most intractable
conflicts can be resolved. Here in our own hemisphere,
just in the last few weeks, after half a century of
war, Colombia is poised to achieve an historic peace. (applause) And the nations of North
America will be an important partner to Colombia going
forward, including working to remove landmines. Around the world, Canadian
and American diplomats working together can
make a difference. Even in Syria, where the
agony and the suffering of the Syrian people tears at
our hearts, our two nations continue to be leaders in
humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. And although a true
resolution of this conflict so far has eluded us, we
know that the only solution to this civil war is a
political solution, so that the Syrian people can
reclaim their country and live in peace. And Canadians and Americans
are going to work as hard as we can to make that happen. (applause) I should add that here
in the nation of Lester Pearson, we reaffirm
our commitment to keep strengthening the
peacekeeping that saves lives around the world. There is one threat,
however, that we cannot solve militarily, nor can we
solve alone — and that is the threat of
climate change. Now, climate change is no
longer an abstraction. It’s not an issue we can
put off for the future. It is happening now. It is happening here,
in our own countries. The United States and Canada
are both Arctic nations, and last year, when I
became the first U.S. President to visit the
Arctic, I could see the effects myself. Glaciers — like Canada’s
Athabasca Glacier — are melting at alarming rates. Tundra is burning. Permafrost is thawing. This is not a conspiracy. It’s happening. Within a generation,
Arctic sea ice may all but disappear in the summer. And so skeptics and cynics
can insist on denying what’s right in front of our eyes. But the Alaska Natives that
I met, whose ancestral villages are sliding into
the sea — they don’t have that luxury. They know climate
change is real. They know it is not a hoax. And from Bangladesh to the
Pacific islands, rising seas are swallowing land and
forcing people from their homes. Around the world, stronger
storms and more intense droughts will create
humanitarian crises and risk more conflict. This is not just a moral
issue, not just a economic issue, it is also an urgent
matter of our national security. And for too long, we’ve
heard that confronting climate change means
destroying our own economies. But let me just say, carbon
emissions in the United States are back to where
they were two decades ago, even as we’ve grown our
economy dramatically over the same period. Alberta, the oil country of
Canada, is working hard to reduce emissions while
still promoting growth. (applause) So if Canada can do it, and
the United States can do it, the whole world can unleash
economic growth and protect our planet. We can do this. (applause) We can do it. We can do this. We can help lead the world
to meet this threat. Already, together in Paris,
we achieved the most ambitious agreement in
history to fight climate change. Now let’s bring it
into force this year. (applause) With our agreement with
Mexico that we announced today, let’s generate half
the electricity on this continent from clean energy
sources within a decade. That’s achievable. (applause) Let’s partner in the Arctic
to help give its people the opportunity they deserve,
while conserving the only home they know. And building on the idea
that began in Montreal three decades ago, let’s finally
phase down dangerous HFC greenhouse gases. This is the only
planet we’ve got. And this may be the last
shot we’ve got to save it. And America and Canada are
going to need to lead the way. (applause) We’re going to have
to lead the way. Just as we are joined in our
commitment to protecting the planet, we are also joined
in our commitment to the dignity of every
human being. We believe in the right of
all people to participate in society. We believe in the right of
all people to be treated equally, to have an
equal shot at success. That is in our DNA, the
basic premise of our democracies. I think we can all agree
that our democracies are far from perfect. They can be messy, and they
can be slow, and they can leave all sides of a
debate unsatisfied. Justin is just
getting started. (laughter) So in case you hadn’t
figured that out, that’s where this gray
hair comes from. (laughter) But more than any other
system of government, democracy allows our most
precious rights to find their fullest expression,
enabling us, through the hard, painstaking work of
citizenship, to continually make our countries better. To solve new challenges. To right past wrongs. And, Prime Minister, what
a powerful message of reconciliation it was —
here and around the world — when your government pledged
a new relationship with Canada’s First Nations. (applause) Democracy is not easy. It’s hard. Living up to our ideals can
be difficult even in the best of times. And it can be harder when
the future seems uncertain, or when, in response to
legitimate fears and frustrations, there are
those who offer a politics of “us” versus “them,” a
politics that scapegoats others — the immigrant, the
refugee, someone who seems different than us. We have to call this
mentality what it is — a threat to the values that we
profess, the values we seek to defend. It’s because we respect all
people that the world looks to us as an example. The colors of the rainbow
flag have flown on Parliament Hill. They have lit up
the White House. That is a testament to our
progress, but also the work that remains to ensure true
equality for our fellow citizens who are lesbian,
gay, bisexual or transgender. (applause) Our Muslim friends
and neighbors who run businesses, and serve in our
governments and in our armed forces, and are friends with
our children, play on our sports teams — we’ve got to
stand up against the slander and the hate leveled against
those who look or worship differently. That’s our obligation. That’s who we are. That’s what makes
America special. That’s what makes
Canada special. (applause) Here. Here in Canada. (applause) Here in Canada, a woman has
already risen to the highest office in the land. In America, for the first
time, a woman is the presumptive nominee of a
major party and perhaps President. (applause) I have a bias on
these issues — (laughter) — but our work won’t be
finished until all women in our country are truly equal
— paid equally, treated equally, given the same
opportunities as men, when our girls have the same
opportunities as our boys. (applause) That’s who we need to be. (applause) And let me say this —
because I don’t feel particularly politically
correct on this issue — I don’t believe that these are
American values or Canadian values or Western values. I believe, and Justin
believes, and I hope all of you believe, these
are universal values. And we must be bold in their
defense, at home and around the world. (applause) And not shy away from
speaking up on behalf of these values of pluralism
and tolerance and equality. (applause) I fear sometimes that we are
timid in defense of these values. That’s why I will continue
to stand up for those inalienable rights, here in
our own hemisphere — in places like Cuba and
Venezuela — but also in more distant lands. For the rights of citizens
in civil society to speak their mind and
work for change. For the right of journalists
to report the truth. For the right of people of
all faiths to practice their religion freely. Those things are hard,
but they’re right. They’re not always
convenient, but they’re true. In the end, it is this
respect for the dignity of all people, especially the
most vulnerable among us, that perhaps more than
anything else binds our two countries together. Being Canadian, being
American is not about what we look like or where
our families came from. It is about our commitment
to a common creed. And that’s why, together, we
must not waver in embracing our values, our best selves. And that includes our
history as a nation of immigrants, and we must
continue to welcome people from around the world. (applause) The vibrancy of our
economies are enhanced by the addition of new,
striving immigrants. But this is not just a
matter of economics. When refugees escape barrel
bombs and torture, and migrants cross deserts and
seas seeking a better life, we cannot simply
look the other way. We certainly can’t label
as possible terrorists vulnerable people who
are fleeing terrorists. (applause) We can insist that the
process is orderly. We can insist that our
security is preserved. Borders mean something. But in moments like this,
we are called upon to see ourselves in others, because
we were all once strangers. If you weren’t a stranger,
your grandparents were strangers. Your great-grandparents
were strangers. They didn’t all have
their papers ready. They fumbled with language
faced discrimination, had cultural norms
that didn’t fit. At some point, somewhere,
your family was an outsider. So the mothers, the fathers,
the children we see today — they’re us. We can’t forsake them. So, as Americans and
Canadians, we will continue to welcome refugees, and we
can ensure that we’re doing so in a way that
maintains our security. We can and we will do both. (applause) We can and we will do both. We’re increasing our support
to Central America, so that fewer families and children
attempt the dangerous journey north. This fall at the United
Nations, we’ll host a global summit on refugees, because
in the face of this crisis, more nations need to step
up and meet our basic obligations to our
fellow human beings. And it will be difficult,
and budgets are tight, and there are legitimate issues
and not everybody is going to be helped. But we can try. People of goodwill and
compassion show us the way. Greek islanders pulling
families to shore. And Germans handing out
sweets to migrants at railway stations. A synagogue in Virginia
inviting Syrian refugees to dinner. And here, in Canada, the
world has been inspired as Canadians across this
country have opened up their hearts and their homes. And we’ve watched citizens
knitting tuques to keep refugees warm in the winter. (laughter) And we’ve seen your Prime
Minister welcome new arrivals at the airport,
and extend the hand of friendship and say,
“You’re safe at home now.” And we see the refugees
who feel that they have a special duty to give back,
and seize the opportunities of a new life. Like the girl who fled
Afghanistan by donkey and camel and jet plane, and who
remembers being greeted in this country by helping
hands and the sound of robins singing. And today, she serves in
this chamber, and in the cabinet, because
Canada is her home. (applause) A country “is not something
you build as the pharaohs built the pyramids…a
country is something that is built every day out of
certain basic shared values.” How true that is. How blessed we are to have
had people before us, day by day, brick by brick,
build these extraordinary countries of ours. How fortunate, how
privileged we are to have the opportunity to now,
ourselves, build this world anew. What a blessing. And as we go forward
together, on that freedom road, let’s stay true to the
values that make us who we are — Canadians and
Americans, allies and friends, now and forever. Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup. (applause) Thank you.

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