Why confessing Canada’s failures could be part of Trudeau’s plan for UN success


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now given two speeches to mark the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York, two speeches in which he sought to burnish his government’s progressive, internationalist credentials at a time when so many other world leaders are focused inward.

A year ago, the prime minister spoke of how Canada welcomed 31,000 Syrian refugees fleeing civil war in their home country. At a time of significant upheaval, he spoke of the importance of global leaders working together to allay rather than exploit people’s fears.

On Thursday, he chose this same international stage to lay out a very different vision, focused this time on what he sees as Canada’s national shame, and how his government is working to right the historic wrongs perpetrated against Indigenous people.

“Canada is not a wonderland,” he said in French early in his remarks at the UN, “or a country where difficulties don’t exist.”

To any Canadian this might seem more than a little self-evident. But what may seem far less self-evident is the purpose of a political leader using time at the UN to publicly highlight his country’s failings. But make no mistake, there is a purpose.

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