Address to parliamentarians in The Hague, Netherlands
Dank u wel Speaker Bergkamp.
Speakers, Chairpersons, Members of Parliament, friends, it is an honour to address you today in this historic hall.
As was pointed out, every fall, the tulip bulbs that you – the Dutch people – send us, are planted in gardens and parks across Ottawa.
In fact, they went in just last week.
And every spring, no matter how long and cold our Canadian winter has been and it is long and cold, those tulips come up.
My friends, we have faith that what we do today will have an impact tomorrow.
Because if we sow the seeds of a brighter future, that better day will arrive.
That’s what Canadian soldiers believed when they landed on the beaches of Europe 80 years ago.
It’s what they believed as they fought their way to the Netherlands.
As they pushed canal by canal, town by town, to vanquish the dark forces of fascism.
Later today, I will visit the Bergen-op-Zoom cemetery, where so many Canadian soldiers were laid to rest.
And as I pay my respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, I’ll be thinking of all that they were fighting for.
Of the legacy they left.
Looking at names like Lloyd MacDonald and Romeo Gagnon will, of course, also be a reminder that Canada is a bilingual country.
So this morning, I will be leaning on your famous Dutch multilingualism and staying true to my Canadian bilingualism.
Our two countries are united by generations of people who fought hard to build a better tomorrow.
People who defended what they believed in.
I’m talking about democracy and human rights, about the belief that all people are equal and that there is real strength in unity.
And we should be proud of that.
And we should celebrate that.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today.
If our two countries are bound together, and I know that we are, it is not only by our shared history but by our common future.
As friends, allies, and partners across the Atlantic, Canada and the Netherlands share a commitment to the brighter tomorrow we want to see, and the progressive values that will get us there.
The rule of law.
Belief in reason.
The defense of human rights.
Multilateral institutions that serve the common good by promoting fairness and equality.
Of course, you already know that.
After all, we’re in the home of so many of these ideas and ideals.
I think about the fact that long before the Enlightenment swept across Europe, you here in the Netherlands were pioneers of progress, advocating for reason and science as the path forward.
My friends – that is still our path.
And that is what I want to talk with you about today.
Our generation faces real challenges.
Rising populism and extremism.
A more unpredictable world.
Workers losing their jobs to automation.
Wildfires laying waste to entire towns and sea levels creeping up on entire countries.
This is not the world of those Dutch thinkers from hundreds of years ago.
It is not the world in which our grandparents stood shoulder-to-shoulder against the Nazi regime.
But if online radicalization drives someone to hate their fellow citizen, is it really so different from the intolerance our grandparents sought to defeat?
In the shadow of great power, competition, and authoritarianism, isn’t our path forward still the rule of law, universal values, and cooperation?
When workers are worried about their future, doesn’t the solution remain economies that work for everyone?
And as climate change threatens our world, aren’t we once again called to step up and defend a brighter tomorrow for our children?
Populism and extremism.
Threats to the environment.
These are not new challenges.
They are issues that we have known about for a long time and that we have succeeded in overcoming in the past.
And so, I think we have to consider that the solutions may be closer to hand than we think.
Just 10 minutes from here is the International Criminal Court.
When we talk about our shared commitment to progressive values, it’s hard to think of a better example.
After all, a team of Canadians played a central role in setting up this court that now finds its home right here in The Hague.
This is proof that we can stand up and we have stood up together to injustice, to hate, and to the very worst crimes.
And it’s proof that we continue to meet these wrongs with the rule of law and with a commitment to the rights of every person.
That is the groundwork that, together, we have laid.
This is the foundation upon which we can build.
At home in Canada, we’re cracking down on online hate and radicalization while keeping communities safe with measures that protect places of worship and community centres.
There must be no tolerance for antisemitism, just like there must be no place for Islamophobia, or hatred of any kind.
Of course, this work goes beyond our borders.
I could talk about the new immigration stream we’re establishing to provide safe refuge for human rights defenders at risk, including from Afghanistan, yet another place where the Dutch and Canadians have stood side by side in defence of peace and human rights.
Or launching a new Canadian centre to promote democracy and good governance around the world.
Or the fact that we’ll continue increasing our support for institutions and groups that stand up for democracy, for human rights, and for international law globally.
I could talk about all the work Canada has done on democracy, human rights, and international law.
But at the end of the day, it all comes down to this:
We know the kind of world we want.
And we know that we cannot build it alone.
Our two countries stand alongside each other in the defence of human rights and the rule of law.
Canada and the Netherlands are making a joint intervention at the International Court of Justice to ensure accountability for the Rohingya people who have been the victims of genocide.
And we’re cooperating to hold the Syrian government responsible for crimes against humanity it has committed against its own citizens.
The points I’ve just laid out may seem so obvious to those of us in the room that one could wonder why we even need to say them at all.
But in this age of unreason, of disinformation, of skepticism and cynicism, we need to acknowledge that there are those who would tear down what we are building, who stand against these positive values we share.
And let’s be frank.
It’s not just conspiracy theorists and marginalized angry people online.
It’s state actors, too, using disinformation, propaganda, and cyberwarfare to harm our economies, our democracies, and undermine people’s faith in the principles that hold us together.
So we must stand strong and united.
In NATO, at the UN, and in multilateral fora around the world, to meet the threat of authoritarianism with the hard work of democracy.
To counter challenges to security and strength.
And to show that societies that embrace difference, that welcome open debate, and that care about each and every one of their citizens – that those societies ultimately deliver a better present and future for all.
We are not on the front lines of a World War as our grandparents were.
That does not mean, though, that we can just sit back and just assume that the work they started is done.
My friends, our work is just beginning.
In Canada, we must grapple with the injustices faced by Indigenous peoples for far too long.
Government has a real role to play.
And that’s why we’re working hard on everything from clean water to making amends for historic wrongs.
But individuals have their part, too.
Because reconciliation – or, for that matter, doing right by any community – is shared work.
And I know that our citizens are more than equal to the task.
Just think of what we’ve all been able to accomplish just over the last 18 months.
With COVID-19, our world has faced a challenge like we could never have expected.
But countries like ours, like Canada and the Netherlands, we’re pulling through.
There are lots of reasons why.
Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re fortunate that as part of the Global North, as trading nations, we’ve been able to secure the vaccines our citizens need faster than most other countries.
But there’s another reason, too.
And it has to do with the fact that we’re places where we look out for one another.
Places where we are willing to stay home to protect our neighbours, where we know that it benefits us all when the small business down the street stays afloat.
As we begin to see the end of this pandemic and this global economic crisis, we have the opportunity to build back better.
And to do that, our economies must first be strong, resilient, and beneficial to everyone.
As our countries push for freer trade, it’s clear that if we close our doors, we will not be able to create good jobs or let our businesses grow.
If we want to foster shared prosperity and build a strong middle class in each of our countries, we must put our faith in fair and progressive trade.
And there’s no doubt that Canada and the Netherlands already know that.
Through CETA, we’ve boosted trade in goods between our two countries by 18 per cent already, while trade in services has gone up by almost 50 per cent.
Working together as liberal trading nations.
It means more good, well-paying jobs for the middle class.
More opportunities and customers for our small businesses.
More growth for the entire economy.
That’s why Canada has been leading efforts on WTO reform through the Ottawa Group.
Because an open, free, fair, and rules-based trading system can drive global prosperity and a stronger middle-class everywhere – provided we remain committed to ensuring that that system includes everyone, and that everyone can reap the benefits.
Later today, I’ll be sitting down with business and environmental leaders to talk about the next chapter in our collaboration.
Green innovation and clean growth that creates new opportunities for workers and resilient economies for everyone.
My friends, everyone deserves to have a good job.
But let’s not forget that this is not the only thing people worry about when they think of the life they want for their children and their families.
After all, what good is a strong economy or an open society if our home has been ravaged by forest fires or our neighbourhood is completely flooded?
We are facing a climate crisis and we must take responsibility.
Climate change is the test of our generation.
To meet it, we have to follow the science.
To listen to reason.
Because if we do anything else, we will fall short.
I know you get that.
The bikes that are a symbol of the Netherlands are a testament to your commitment.
My friends, it’s an example we’re following at home in Canada with historic investments in bike paths and walking trails.
When it comes to climate ambition, we’re on the same page.
We’ve both committed to phasing out coal-fired electricity.
We’ve both put a price on pollution.
We’re both investing in renewable energy and moving forward on climate adaptation.
The world needs countries like ours to stand up for what we believe.
To say yes, this is a crisis and yes, we can do something about it.
To follow the science.
To develop new solutions.
To lead for our kids.
And this coming week, especially, we all have a chance to do just that.
COP26 is in a few days.
I’ll be there, and I know Prime Minister Rutte will, too.
Let’s take this opportunity to keep working together.
To rebuild good, green jobs for workers, and leave a bright future for our children.
These are big challenges, bigger than either of our two countries.
So why does it matter that we talk about this here?
Why am I saying all this to you, in this historic hall, today?
This is the same hall where the Congress of Europe was held in 1948, as Canadians joined leaders from across Europe to rebuild after the Second World War.
This is the same hall where they made the choice to work together instead of being divided.
To embrace democracy and human rights against hate and injustice.
To believe in reason and progress and reject fear and mistrust.
That was their choice.
Now, this choice is ours.
Neither of our countries stands as the biggest, or the richest, or the most powerful.
But building a better world isn’t about standing alone.
It’s about standing together.
My friends, let us plant the seeds – and bulbs – of a better future.
And let’s have faith in their promise for a brighter tomorrow.
Dank u wel.