Prime Minister of Canada, Rt. Honourable Justin Trudeau, at this year’s Women Deliver conference in Vancouver, spoke on a wide range of issues. Charles Ajunwa was there
Canada’s Historic Moment
This is truly a historic week as Canada hosts grassroots leaders and advocates from around the world at the Women Deliver global conference here in Vancouver. Our government promised to put gender equality at the heart of everything we do and this summit is another chance to keep creating meaningful progress on women in parliament. Globally and here at home, we have seen the pushback against women’s rights whether is attacks on women’s fundamental right to choose or violence against indigenous women and girls. The moment for Canadian leadership is now and we are stepping up. But there is no silver bullet on gender equality. We need to take action on a whole range of issues if we are going to change the statuesque. This week, our government is announcing new steps forward and everything from funding for women’s organisations and women’s health to support entrepreneurs and members of the LGBTQ2 communities.
Yesterday marked another important and long overdue step towards justice for the indigenous women in Canada. A national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls formally presented their final report on Monday (June 3, 2019) in which they found that the tragic violence against the indigenous women and girls amounts to genocide. Our government will work with indigenous partners on real and meaningful action as we review the increasing calls for justice. Of course, as Canadians, we know that we cannot turn inwards and ignore the struggles of women beyond our borders. Just a few minutes ago, I announced that Canada will increase our investment to 1.4 billion Dollars annually to support women and girls’ health globally positioning us as a leading donor worldwide on comprehensive, sexual and reproductive health rights.
Over the next few days, we will be announcing what else our government is doing to advance gender equality and make a real difference in people’s lives from entrepreneurs across the country to women right here in Vancouver. Again, I want to thank everyone who has come to Women Deliver to share their expertise and their ideas. Our government will always be a strong voice and a steadfast allied as we build a brighter future not just for women and girls but for everyone.
Review and reinvestigation cases of missing indigenous women
First of all, the tragedy that has been ongoing for decades and generations in Canada of indigenous women and girls going missing, being murdered and the Canadian system not responding is a priority area and of concern. It’s something that has to end. The tragedy the impact on families that I saw yesterday is indescribable and we cannot pretend to be a country that cares about human rights that has a positive impact on the world if we do not end this situation once and for all. That is why we accepted the recommendations of the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They asked for a national public inquiry into the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and we acted on it. We accept the calls for justice of the inquiry and we will move forward in partnership with indigenous peoples on taking action on the calls for justice across the broad range of action. And we will be putting forward our Action Plan in the coming months that will outline how we as a government will respond to this report and this Commission’s calls for actions and I looked forward to doing that with you all in the coming months.
Trump’s threat to slap tariffs on Mexico
On the issue of the ratification of NAFTA, we will continue to move forward in a powerful responsible way because we know that the new NAFTA Agreement is good for jobs in Canada and United States and in Mexico, and we will go through that process in a way that loves to keep pace with and support the American ratification process whether it’s slightly graded degree of debates than in Canada and we accept the statements by Mexican leadership that this will not affect their ratification process the threats that President Trump has made.
Accepts Commission’s findings
We recognise the need for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and we have commissioners who came back with findings of fact and with calls to action. We thank them for their work, we applaud their work, we accept their findings including that what happened amounts to genocide. There are many debates ongoing going around, words and use of words our focus as a country, as leaders, as citizens must be on the steps we take to put an end to this situation and that is what we are going to remain focused on.
Debate on Quebec independence
One other thing we have seen over the past few years is the intensity of debate around Quebec independence has reduced or taken some way of a back seat to some important debates about the environment, about growing an economy that works for everyone, about Canada standing in the world and although there continue to be people who strongly and passionately believe in independence option for Quebec. Many of those people continue to work very hard alongside us on creating better opportunities for everyone. Challenges will remain regardless of the political system in which we found ourselves. So, I encourage to see so many people focused on how we can work together to build a better future for everyone rather than focusing on the divisive debates of the past.
Focusing on families of missing indigenous women
I think one of the challenges we face right now is a lot of people are engaging in debate over what? As I said, we accept the findings of the commissioners that it was genocide but our focus is going to be as it must be on the families, on the communities who have suffered such loss. On the systems that have repeatedly failed indigenous women and girls across this country. Our focus is on bringing together people to solve this challenge and that’s what we will remain focused on.
Ending national tragedy
I have acknowledged that I accept findings of the report and the issues we have is that the people are getting rapt up in debates over a very important and powerful term and our focus as I said, we accept those findings. We accept the findings that this was genocide and we will move forward to end this ongoing national tragedy.
Works as a Feminist
I think absolutely the reflection on being a feminist is always trying to look for where we do better and one of the things was a surprise and dismaying to me even as we are moving forward, the gender balance cabinet for example with strong feminist international development agenda as we are moving forward. As we were moving forward in so many ways to close gaps recognising when our report came out some years ago that Canada is weighed down the list on pay equity. That despite the work that we have been doing over the past few years, Canada is not a global leader when it comes to making sure that women and men get paid the same amount for work of equal value. That is why we have moved forward in introducing proactive pay equity legislation but we know that is going to take time and there is always more to do. I will continue to reflect on where our shortcomings are and where we can do better and that is something that is really important.
On the matter of Venezuela, we continue to be extremely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation and the descending from democracy that continued under the Nicolas Maduro regime. That is why we support the interim presidency of Juan Guaido who is recognised under the Venezuelan Constitution as the interim president who is charged with holding new elections as soon as possible. We continue to work with our partners in the region as a member of the LIMA group and continue to advocate for the transition to democracy so that we can restore opportunities and peace and stability to the Venezuelan people.
In regards to the embassy, we are dismayed by the obligation to close the Canadian Embassy but the Maduro regime is not renewing the visas of the Canadian diplomats there. We recalled the ambassador sometime ago. But we will continue to work with international organisations , with NGOs, with our allies to try and make sure we are fighting for safety and opportunity for people in Venezuela particularly women but we will not get to a good place until Venezuela has a transition out of this murderous, dictatorial regime of Nicolas Mudaro.
Calls for action
First of all, we recognise all calls for action are important and calls for justice are important and we will work with indigenous communities and leadership on establishing our plan to move forward and to respond to them in partnership with indigenous peoples. We will be establishing our plans in coming weeks and we will have more to say once we have figured it out ourselves what plan is right for Canadians. Again, do that with indigenous peoples
Mike Pompeo’s hard words for China
In regards to China, I know that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will be putting out a statement shortly if it’s not already out marking the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. We continue to call on China to respect human rights, respect the right to protest, respect freedom of expression, to seize its actions against minorities in western China. We have concerns about China’s behaviour in regards to human rights and we will continue to advocate both directly with Chinese leadership as I have every time I have sat down with them and indirectly with our allies call for better respect of human rights on this anniversary and every day going forward.
Concerns about education
The education of children around the world is a huge priority particularly the education of women and girls. That is why we made it a central element of our G7 Presidency last year. We convened a group of experts, the G7 Gender Advisory Council. They made recommendations to us on how as a global community, Canada can lead, we can lead as G7 on some of the most pressing issues. One of the things that was pointed out, was that there is money out there for girls’ education but there was a lack in funding girls’ education in crisis or conflict situations. That’s one of the first things that disappeared. So working with our allies, our partners and the World Bank we collected close to four billion Dollars directly for girls’ education in conflict and crisis situations around the world. That is making a huge difference already and will continue to be because we know that when we ensure education for women and girls, we create opportunities for entire communities, we create peace and stability. It’s a fundamental building block of not just a better society but indeed a better world and we will continue to do that.
But of course one of the announcements we made today, highlights and we understand that before we can talk about girls’ education, we have to talk about sexual reproductive health rights. We need to talk about maternal, newborn child health and those other things that Canada is stepping up while other countries are stepping back on their investments and playing politics with it. Canada is stepping up! We understand that investing in maternal, newborn child health and in reproductive health rights services are essential to moving forward in a holistic way that respects women and empowers them to build a better future for themselves, their kids, their families and their communities. That is why we are going to continue to be investing in Canada and around the world on respecting women’s rights even as others step away from it.
Canadians recognise the impacts of climate change to a greater degree than we ever have wildfires are going on now in our borders…We have seen here in B.C. we have seen two very difficult years. The floods we saw across the country, the springs like past springs we are seeing an increase in droughts, an increase in tornados…just a couple of days ago increase in hurricanes in our southern neighbours . Extreme weather events are extraordinarily expensive for Canadians, for our communities and for our economy. We need to be taking real action to prevent climate change. That’s why we are moving forward on price on pollution right across the country despite that conservative politicians are trying to push back against that, we will continue to move forward on fighting climate change. We are moving forward on protecting our marine areas, our land-based areas to meet and surpass our global targets. We are moving forward on historic ocean protection plan which involved investments in the Canadian Coast Guard, historical renewal of the fleets that I made here in Vancouver. We are going to continue to move forward towards the economy of the future as we invest in renewable resources, invest in new technology, encourage the way we develop and use our natural resources to be cleaner and more responsible and safer in a way that makes sure that at the centre of everything the transition towards a cleaner economy is affordable for regular Canadians. We know that the extreme weather events coming are unaffordable for Canadians and for our society. That’s why we need to act, we need to act in a way that puts more money in pockets of Canadians and that’s exactly what we are doing with the climate incentive and with the support, we are giving to families in places where conservative politicians are not moving forward and putting a price on pollution. We will do that in a way that makes it affordable for Canadians.