POLITICS

Trudeau's UN Speech Expected To Address Canada's Treatment Of Indigenous Peoples

His remarks are laying the groundwork for a Security Council bid.

09/20/2017 22:00 EDT | Updated 09/20/2017 22:54 EDT
Carlo Allegri / Reuters
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his remarks during the signing ceremony on climate change held at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan on April 22, 2016.

NEW YORK — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to discuss Canada's treatment of its Indigenous peoples and the steps his government is taking to address more than a century of injustice when he makes his second address to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday afternoon.

Trudeau plans to use Canada's domestic experience to talk about this country's approach to solving problems on the international stage, HuffPost Canada has learned. Just because problems may seem unsolvable, or simply too difficult to solve, doesn't mean Canada or the international community will disengage, an official speaking on condition of anonymity said.

Trudeau is expected to stress that Canada is not perfect but that it is learning. Injustice towards Indigenous people is an ongoing problem that will take years of dedication to resolve, he will say.

Trudeau to speak to climate change threats


Trudeau's speech will broadly lay out his vision of Canada's place in the world, one of re-engaging with multilateral institutions, and he will specifically focus on leadership in addressing climate issues, the official said.

The prime minister is expected to highlight climate change as a global problem, one that surpasses borders, and which requires a concerted effort by all. He is expected to discuss steps the Liberals have taken to address climate change, and to encourage his audience, representatives of people from all around the world, to further co-operate together.

"We believe in a more active presence for Canada on the world stage, in a more involved role for our country, for our leadership, and for our diplomats around the world," Trudeau spokesman Cameron Ahmad said. "We have a lot to contribute."

Trudeau's speech will lay the groundwork for Canada's 2021-2022 Security Council bid. "We are making a pitch that we would have a positive contribution to the table," Ahmad said.

Earlier on HuffPost:

Earlier this week, the prime minister confirmed his government's intention to contest a two-year rotating seat with the prestigious UN decision-making body. But HuffPost Canada has learned Ottawa has yet to actively campaign for the post, a three-way contest that currently pits it against Norway and Ireland for one of the two seats to represent the Western group.

Access to information requests for records relating to high-level meetings on Canada's Security Council bid, as well as on activities planned or executed in relations to the campaign, came up empty.

Another government source explained that "bilateral meetings haven't specifically dealt with the campaign yet."

On Wednesday, Trudeau held seven back-to-back bilateral meetings at the UN. He met with Tajikistani President Emomali Rahmon for the first time and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, with whom he shared the stage earlier in the day speaking about progressive trade and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum.

Amr Alfiky / Reuters
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a bilateral meeting with the Tajikistani President Emomali Rahmon at the United Nation Headquarters on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan on Sept. 20, 2017.

He congratulated Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno on his recent electoral victory, and, in turn, was praised by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela: "Young leaders like you are needed now, at this moment," Varela said.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís told Trudeau his country is eager to welcome him for a visit. The long-time president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, recalled fondly working with Trudeau's father in the 1970s while in the Ugandan military. The last meeting, more casual, was with the vice-president of Indonesia.

Officials suggested that Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and UN Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard occasionally ask for support towards the 2020 vote.

"Sometimes they say, 'Yes, yes we'll vote for you;' sometimes they say, 'Good to know, we'll wait to hear from all the candidates,'" said another official, who did not want to be named due to the early stages of the campaign.

Out of respect for a convention of not openly campaigning before the conclusion of the current election, Canada plans to release its "rah-rah campaign" only later next year, after the UN General Assembly has voted on the temporary members for the 2019-2020 round, most likely in June, the official added. After that, Canada will make a point of raising its campaign voice and asking for votes, he said.

'The campaign is on, but it will heat up'


The government also plans to engage voting members by, for example, inviting the heads of the diplomatic missions in New York to tour Canada.

While some countries make executive decisions about whom to support in such contests, many other nations leave the decision on Security Council temporary membership to their local UN ambassador, making for potentially interesting negotiations.

"The campaign is on, but it will heat up," the official added.

Winning against Norway or Ireland won't be easy, but another official noted that Canada brings a lot to the table: it is a G7 country, a member of the G20, it has strong relationships with the United States and the Donald Trump administration, strong relationships in the Americas, a history of multilateral engagement and, it's a bilingual country.

On Wednesday, Trudeau pointed to his government's commitment to the Paris climate accord as well as its military contributions in northern Iraq against ISIS and in Latvia against Russian aggression as signs that Canada is engaging in "constructive, positive ways" on the world stage.

Some of the themes Canada is expected to campaign on include climate change, the empowerment of women and progressive trade.

Trudeau hit those topics Wednesday as he basked in the adoration of crowds first at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, then at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Goalkeepers conference and later in front of thousands of young people at a We Day event where he was joined by his wife, Sophie.

He spoke of the importance of progressive trade and ensuring that trade deals work for everyone, not just the privileged few. He talked about a recent commitment to ensure that the disbursement of Canadian development aid will be considered based on its impact on women.

He also highlighted his feminism and the important role men and boys can play in ensuring gender equality.