Trudeau make pitch to join ASEAN

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE -

MANILA, Philip­pines Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau de­liv­ered an im­pas­sioned pitch to core mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions Tues­day to open the door to Canada join­ing its exclusive and in­flu­en­tial cir­cle.

In a speech to the ASEANCanada sum­mit be­fore the al­most two dozen lead­ers of the al­liance, Trudeau said Canada looks for­ward to be­com­ing a mem­ber of the East Asia Sum­mit and the ASEAN de­fence min­is­ters panel.

“Canada is not only will­ing, but ready to be a key part­ner for the next 50 years,” he said.

“We are ready to con­trib­ute to ASEAN’s suc­cess in an in­creas­ingly glob­al­ized world by join­ing the East Asia Sum­mit and the ASEAN de­fence min­is­ters meet­ing­plus at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity. This would al­low Canada to be­come a full and dy­namic part­ner of ASEAN.”

Trudeau, who spoke ahead of the larger sum­mit in­volv­ing lead­ers from 18 coun­tries, in­clud­ing China, Rus­sia and the United States, to dis­cuss se­cu­rity is­sues, said Canada’s earnest de­fence of free trade puts it in a unique po­si­tion to help the as­so­ci­a­tion foster growth in south­east Asia.

He ar­gued that trade deals cre­ate jobs and new and lu­cra­tive mar­kets for busi­ness.

“Done right, we be­lieve that trade deals can cre­ate good, well-pay­ing jobs for the mid­dle class and those work­ing hard to join it. Ul­ti­mately, Canada be­lieves that the ben­e­fits of growth must be felt by every­one — not just our wealth­i­est cit­i­zens.”

Trudeau also high­lighted Canada’s ef­forts to help the Ro­hingya Mus­lims, in­clud­ing the de­ci­sion to ap­point for­mer MP Bob Rae as a special en­voy to the re­gion.

“I have asked him to en­gage in diplo­matic ef­forts, and iden­tify ways in which Canada can sup­port the re­sponse to the sit­u­a­tion and the plight of the Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity,” Trudeau said.

“Canada will con­tinue to sup­port ASEAN’s hu­man­i­tar­ian and po­lit­i­cal ef­forts to find a sus­tain­able and just so­lu­tion to the on­go­ing cri­sis. Canada will also con­tinue to work with the govern­ments of Myan­mar and Bangladesh to al­low for the safe re­turn of dis­placed peo­ples.”

Trudeau also said Canada stands along­side Asia in de­mand­ing that North Korea aban­don its nu­clear weapons and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams.

“North Korea must im­me­di­ately cease all ac­tiv­i­ties that go against its in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions and United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions,” he said.

Trudeau is at­tend­ing the ASEAN sum­mit thanks to an in­vi­ta­tion from Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, who sat be­side the Cana­dian leader dur­ing his remarks.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials say Du­tarte went “out on a limb” to se­cure the in­vi­ta­tion but one se­nior in­sider in­sists the Philippine pres­i­dent’s help­ful ges­ture won’t have any im­pact on whether Trudeau con­fronts him about hu­man­rights vi­o­la­tions in the south­east Asian coun­try that have shocked peo­ple around the world.

Trudeau has hinted he might bring up the is­sue of hu­man rights with Duterte, if he gets the chance.

It also re­mains to be seen if Trudeau will chal­lenge Duterte face to face over his vi­o­lent drug war. Duterte’s bloody crack­down has in­cluded ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings by his gov­ern­ment that have left thou­sands dead.

The lead­ers do not have any oneon-one meet­ings sched­uled dur­ing Trudeau’s time in the Philip­pines.

Fran­cisco Fer­nan­dez of the Philip­pines em­bassy in Ot­tawa says Canada sought the in­vi­ta­tion and Manila didn’t hes­i­tate to grant it, partly be­cause of trade and in­vest­ment ties and partly due to the 837,000 peo­ple of Filipino de­scent who live in Canada.

Trudeau will be the first Cana­dian leader to par­tic­i­pate in a one-hour ex­change at the ASEAN sum­mit, dur­ing which mem­bers will ask him ques­tions and de­bate the depth of Canada’s co-op­er­a­tion in the re­gion.

The op­por­tu­nity ar­rives at a time when Trudeau is mak­ing ef­forts to raise Canada’s in­ter­na­tional pro­file and demon­strate it can wres­tle with com­pli­cated chal­lenges, at home and abroad.

“As a Pa­cific na­tion, Canada has long un­der­stood the im­por­tance of a close re­la­tion­ship with South­east Asia,” said Trudeau.

“Part­ners in pros­per­ity and in peace, Canada has sought to deepen and strengthen the ties that unite us in re­cent years for the ben­e­fit of all our cit­i­zens. We took an im­por­tant step in that di­rec­tion when we es­tab­lished a diplo­matic pres­ence in all 10 mem­ber states and ap­pointed a per­ma­nent am­bas­sador to ASEAN.”


Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau shakes hands with peo­ple as he walks through the lobby of a build­ing in down­town Manila, Philip­pines Mon­day Novem­ber 13.

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