Barack Obama toasts Justin Trudeau during a state dinner in the East Room of the White House, March 10, 2016. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)So tonight, history comes full circle. Forty-four years ago, President Nixon made a visit to Ottawa. And he was hosted by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. At a private dinner, there was a toast. “Tonight, we’ll dispense with the formalities,” President Nixon said, “I’d like to propose a toast to the future Prime Minister of Canada — Justin Pierre Trudeau.” He was four months at the time.
Before I ever became president, when we celebrated my sister and Konrad’s marriage, Michelle and I took our daughters to Canada. And we went to Burlington and -- this is always tough -- Mississauga. And then we went to Toronto and Niagara Falls. Mississauga. I can do that. And everywhere we went, the Canadian people made us feel right at home.
"Where else would we see a community like Cape Breton, Nova Scotia welcoming Americans if the election does not go their way?"
Margaret Trudeau attends a State Dinner at the White House in honour of her son. (Photo: Douliery-Pool/Getty)On a serious note, this visit reminds us of what we love about Canada. It’s the solidarity shown by so many Canadians after 9/11 when they welcomed stranded American travellers into their homes. It’s the courage of your service members, standing with us in Afghanistan and now in Iraq. It’s the compassion of the Canadian people welcoming refugees — and the prime minister himself, who told those refugees, “You’re safe at home now.” Justin, we also see Canada’s spirit in your mother’s brave advocacy for mental health care -- and I want to give a special welcome to Margaret Trudeau tonight. And we see Canada’s spirit in Sophie — a champion of women and girls, because our daughters deserve the same opportunities that anybody’s sons do. And this spirit reminds us of why we’re all here -- why we serve. Justin, Sophie, your children are still young. They are adorable and they still let you hug them. When we first spoke on the phone after your election, we talked not only as president and prime minister, but also as fathers. When I was first elected to this office, Malia was 10 and Sasha was just seven. And they grow up too fast. This fall, Malia heads off to college. And I’m starting to choke up. So I’m going to wind this — it was in my remarks — and I didn’t — I can’t do it. It’s hard.
But there is a point to this, though, and that is that we’re not here for power. We’re not here for fame or fortune. We’re here for our kids. We’re here for everybody’s kids — to give our sons and our daughters a better world. To pass to them a world that’s a little safer, and a little more equal, and a little more just, a little more prosperous so that a young person growing up in Chicago or Montreal or on the other side of the world has every opportunity to make of their life what they will, no matter who they are or what they look like, or how they pray or who they love. Justin, I believe there are no better words to guide us in this work than those you once used to describe what your father taught you and your siblings -- to believe in yourself. To stand up for ourselves. To know ourselves, and to accept responsibility for ourselves. To show a genuine and deep respect for each other and for every human being. And so I would like to propose a toast -- to the great alliance between the United States and Canada; to our friends, Justin and Sophie; to the friendship between Americans and Canadians and the spirit that binds us together -- a genuine and deep and abiding respect for each and every human being. Cheers.
"We’re not here for fame or fortune. We’re here for our kids. We’re here for everybody’s kids — to give our sons and our daughters a better world."
Read Justin Trudeau's state dinner toast right here.
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