TRUDEAU: Dear friends, Mr. President, Barack, Michelle, all of you gathered here, it is an extraordinary honour for me to be here with you tonight. Thank you so much for the warm welcome you’ve extended to Canada and to the Canadian delegation, and to Sophie and me, personally.
Barack Obama laughs while Justin Trudeau makes a joke during a state dinner at the White House, March 10, 2016 (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
It’s incredibly touching to be able to be here not just as a couple, Sophie and I, but to have been able to bring our families down as well. Sophie’s mom and dad, Estelle and Jean -- get a load of Estelle, I’m looking forward to the future with Sophie. And, of course, my own mother, Margaret, whose last State Dinner here was in 1977. So it’s wonderful to have you here.
It’s also touching to meet Malia and Sasha, who are here at their first state dinner. And quite frankly, the memories for me of being a kid and not being old enough to attend these kinds of events with my father almost makes me wish I had gone through my teenage years as a child of a world leader — but not quite. I admire you very much, both of you, for your extraordinary strength and your grace, through what is a remarkable childhood and young adulthood that will give you extraordinary strength and wisdom beyond your years for the rest of your life. The one thing that you have received from your extraordinary parents is the tools to be able to handle the challenges and the opportunities in front of you. So thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Malia Obama at the state dinner in honour of Justin Trudeau on March 10, 2016. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
In thinking about what I wanted to say this evening, I came across a quote from President Truman, who shared these words with the Canadian parliament nearly 70 years ago. He said that Canada’s relationship with the United States did not develop spontaneously. It did not come about merely through the happy circumstance of geography, but was “compounded of one part proximity, and nine parts good will and commonsense.”
It is that enduring good will and commonsense that I believe defines our relationship to this day. It’s what makes our constructive partnership possible. It’s what allows us to respectfully disagree and remain friends and allies on the few occasions we do. For example I would argue that it’s better to be the leader of a country that consistently wins Olympic gold medals in hockey. President Obama would likely disagree. And yet, you still invited us over for dinner. Because that’s what friends do.
Because, now that I think of it, we’re actually closer than friends. We’re more like siblings, really. We have shared parentage, but we took different paths in our later years. We became the stay-at-home type — and you grew to be a little more rebellious. I think the reason that good will and commonsense comes so easily is because we are Canadians and Americans alike, guided by the same core values. Values like co-operation and respect. Co-operation because it keeps us safe and prosperous. And respect because it’s the surest path to both safeguarding the world we share and honouring the diverse people with whom we share it.
"It’s a relationship that doesn’t just serve its own interests — it serves the entire world."
When it comes to security, for example, we agree that our countries are stronger and the world is safer when we work together. For more than half a century, we’ve joined forces to protect our continent. And we’ve been the closest of allies overseas for even longer, fighting together on the beaches of France, standing shoulder to shoulder with our European partners in NATO, and now confronting violent extremism in the Middle East.
In every instance, we realize that our concerns were better addressed together than alone, and together, we have realized the longest, most peaceful, and most mutually beneficial relationship of any two countries since the birth of the nation state. It’s a relationship that doesn’t just serve its own interests — it serves the entire world. Canadians and Americans also value economic interdependence, because we know that it brings greater prosperity for all of us.
Over $2.4 billion worth of goods and services cross the border every day — evidence of one of the largest and most mutually beneficial trading relationships in the world. And one of our most popular exports to the United States, and I need you to stop teasing him, has been another Justin. Now, no, no, that kid has had a great year. And of course, leave it to a Canadian to reach international fame with a song called “Sorry.”
"Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership -- your global leadership on the pressing issue of the environment and climate change."
Together, Canada and the U.S. negotiated trade agreements that have expanded opportunities for our businesses, created millions of good, well-paying jobs for our workers, and made products more affordable for more Canadian and American families. We must never take that partnership for granted, and I can promise you that my government never will.
But nor should we forget that our responsibilities extend beyond our ruling borders and across generations, which means getting rid of that outdated notion that a health environment and a strong economy stand in opposition to one another. And it means that when we come to issues like climate change, we need to acknowledge that we are all in this together. Our children and grandchildren will judge us not by the words we said, but by the actions we took — or failed to take.
If we truly wish to leave them a better world than the one we inherited from our own parents — and I know, Mr. President, that you and the First Lady want this as strongly as Sophie and I do — we cannot deny the science. We cannot pretend that climate change is still up for debate.
Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership -- your global leadership on the pressing issue of the environment and climate change.
And finally, we believe — Canadians and Americans — in the fundamental truth that diversity can be a source of strength. That we are thriving and prosperous countries not in spite of our differences but because of them. Canadians know this. It’s why communities across the country welcomed more than 25,000 Syrian refugees over the past four months. And not as visitors or temporary citizens, but as Canadians. But of course, Americans understand this, too. It’s why each generation has welcomed newcomers seeking liberty and the promise of a better life. It’s what has made America great over the past decades.
Justin Trudeau speaks during a state dinner at the White House, March 10, 2016 in Washington. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
We know that if we seek to be even greater, we must do greater things — be more compassionate, be more accepting, be more open to those who dress differently or eat different foods, or speak different languages. Our identities as Canadians and Americans are enriched by these differences, not threatened by them.
On our own, we make progress. But together, our two countries make history. Duty-bound, loyal, and forever linked, whatever the future holds, we will face it together. Neighbours, partners, allies, and friends. This is our experience and our example to the world.
Barack, thank you for all that you have done these past seven years to preserve this most important relationship. May the special connection between our two countries continue to flourish in the years to come, and may my grey hair come in at a much slower rate than yours has.
And with that, on behalf of 36 million Americans [sic], I propose a toast to the President, to the First Lady, and to the people of the United States of America. Cheers. (A toast is offered.)
Read Barack Obama's state dinner toast right here.
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