Canada’s Trudeau to Defend Muslims, Tout Immigration to Trump
By Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg News
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will speak up in defense of Muslims, immigration and feminism in talks with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
Trudeau typically avoids direct critiques of Trump, instead pledging to work with any occupant of the White House. He confirmed early Thursday his officials have met with Trump’s team in a bid to boost trade ties.
Later that evening, however, Trudeau went further than usual in speaking about Trump during a town hall session in Belleville, Ont., as he sets out on a campaign-style national tour.
“Canada is a separate country from the United States and there are things we hold dear that the Americans haven’t prioritized,” Trudeau said to cheers from a packed theater in the community about two hours east of Toronto.
“And I’m never going to shy away from standing up for what I believe in, whether it’s proclaiming loudly to the world that I am a feminist, whether it’s understanding that immigration is a source of strength for us and Muslim Canadians are an essential part of the success of our country today and into the future.”
Trudeau said he purposefully had avoided commenting on the U.S. election because he did not know which candidate would win.
“And now that they’ve elected President-elect Trump, we will work with him in a thoughtful and constructive way,” he said. “Every step of the way, our focus is on making sure that Canadian businesses, Canadians and their families have good jobs, have economic growth, have opportunities. And that is the lens from which I dealt with the possibility of this American election throughout.”
During an event earlier in the day, Trudeau confirmed senior aides and Canada’s ambassador to Washington had held talks with Trump aides in their effort to preserve economic ties. He would not say if the Trump officials indicated their administration planned to proceed with a pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Obviously Canadians expect us to have a constructive working relationship with the incoming administration and that is exactly what we are focused on doing,” he said. He later added “there have been a broad range of discussions on the level of integration of our economies and how to move forward in ways that benefit the middle class that we both got elected to serve.”
Earlier this week, Trudeau named a new foreign minister, promoting Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, who had led his cabinet committee on ties with the U.S., in a move seen as motivated by Trump’s looming inauguration.