Canadian leader Justin Trudeau has distanced himself from anti-Brussels sentiment in the US and UK. In a speech hailing the CETA free trade deal, he said the world benefits from a strong European Union.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed the European Union as a bastion of international partnership on Thursday. In a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Trudeau made it clear that Canada sought to distance itself from the protectionism promoted by US President Donald Trump and post-Brexit vote Britain.
"You are a vital player in addressing the challenges that we collectively face as an international community," he told lawmakers. "Indeed, the whole world benefits from a strong EU."
The prime minister then called on the EU and Canada to take center stage in the global economy: "We know that, in these times, we must choose to lead the international economy, not simply be subject to its whims."
"Canada knows that an effective European voice on the global stage isn't just preferable, it's essential," he added, calling the bloc a "truly remarkable achievement and unprecedented model for peaceful cooperation."
Trudeau: CETA 'blueprint' for future
Trudeau's talk came just one day after the European Union backed a controversial free-trade deal with Canada, commonly known as CETA. Not only does the move show a stark contrast to the policies of President Trump, who withdrew from the proposed trans-Pacific free trade deal TTP, it illustrates Canada's drive to pivot away from complete reliance on trade with its neighbor to the south.
CETA was not without its detractors, however, who have argued for years that it promotes business interests to the detriment of farmers and workers. In the fall, the government of the Belgian region of Wallonia also held up ratification proceedings claiming it was hardly given any time to read the agreement and work out the ramifications for its inhabitants.
Trudeau, however, praised the agreement as a "blueprint for all ambitious, future trade deals," once it proves to be sucessful. He added that it will "make the lives of our citizens more affordable."
The Canadian leader gave his speech fresh from a trip to Washington, where he and President Trump attempted to bridge their many differences, even as Trump threatens to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
es/rt (AFP, Reuters)