Prime Minister Trudeau speaks at the Munich Security Conference
Good afternoon, and thank you for the warm welcome. It’s a pleasure to be here in Munich for this important conference. I must say, your invitation comes at a key moment. Just a few weeks ago, we marked the beginning of a new year, of a new decade. And for people around the globe, January is usually a chance to start fresh, to look to the future with optimism, with hope, but 2020 got off to a somber start, not just for Canadians, but for the people of Ukraine, Iran, Afghanistan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. On January 8th, we all learned that a plane had crashed outside of Tehran. A few days later, we would learn that Ukrainian Airlines flight 752 had been shot down by Iranian missiles. 176 innocent people lost their lives in this tragedy. For 138 of them, Canada was their intended destination.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve met with many of their families and friend and heard their stories. These were ordinary people, newlyweds, classmates and colleagues, friends and families, parents on their way home to their children, children who had their whole lives ahead of them. These were ordinary people doing an ordinary thing, in what should have been an ordinary day.
Around the world, citizens suffer the consequences both big and small of decisions they do not make, of global trends they can’t control. They should find reassurance from their leaders, they should be able to look to the people in this room for action, for real solutions. But increasingly, people are losing faith that their leaders and institutions can protect them and support them in a rapidly changing world.
Increasingly, citizens are questioning the benefits of our integrated world. They believe that globalization benefits only those who are already wealthy. They feel drawn to populist movements that exploit their concerns and advocate isolation. As a result, more and more countries are retreating within their borders.
We live in world in which more leaders are challenging longstanding principles of international relations; protectionism is on the rise, trade is being weaponized, the benefits of democratic governance are being questioned. Basic freedoms are being suppressed and authoritarian leaders being emboldened. Political anxieties are adding turbulence to a world that is already facing unprecedented change. The global balance of power is shifting, with new powers rapidly rising, and others becoming more assertive in their regions. Climate change is an existential threat to humanity, with science telling us we have just over a decade to find solutions for our planet. And while the breakneck pace of technological change has created new opportunities for people everywhere, it also poses new challenges for governance.
When I think about these issues and the impact they're having on people, I asked myself what Canada can do. Canada is an influential nation, but I won't pretend it's big enough to move the dial on world affairs on its own. But in this connected world, where our economies are linked, where our destinies are tied, I know that retreating within our borders will not make our people safer or our nations more prosperous. In my time as Prime Minister, I've seen firsthand how forums like this one and international cooperation can make a real difference in people's lives. The solutions we build at meetings like these can mitigate tensions, address inequality, create new opportunities, and solve shared challenges.
But the fact remains that for far too many people, multilateralism has not been delivering the kind of change they seek. While we should not abandon these long-standing principles of international cooperation, we must recognize the need to reform and modernize our institutions. Some aspects of the international architecture reflect old ideas and old power structures. Institutions that should play complementary roles, instead overlap or operate alone in silos. We need to address that. At the same time, it's not enough to apply old solutions to new problems. Today, we are confronting issues that defy established forms of global governance. We have to look beyond existing frameworks to deliver real results for citizens. We have to bring together old friends, new partners, the private sector and civil society to address emerging problems.
That means that we can't always wait for the perfect consensus to be reached within the bounds of established bodies. Delivering results requires us to take action with those who are ready to move. Working with partners, Canada has been applying this pragmatic approach in a number of areas, most notably on trade, on advancing democracy, and on fighting climate change. The progress we've made has reinforced my belief in the power of collaboration and the promise of our institutions. And that's why Canada will continue to step up at a time when others may be stepping away.
Take trade. In the last four years, Canada has renegotiated NAFTA, signed the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union, and joined the comprehensive and progressive agreement for transpacific partnership. We are the first and only G7 country to have a free-trade deal with every other G7 country. But had we chosen to ignore the very real concerns of people across the political spectrum on free trade and globalization, we might not have preferential access to two thirds of the global economy today. We made the conscious decision to address those concerns directly in three major global trade agreements with landmark standards to protect the environment, labour, human rights, gender equality, indigenous rights, and our culture.
But this vision of international trade is only possible if trade is governed by rules and principles. That's why Canada has launched a new initiative in this area, the Ottawa Group. The goal is to help modernize the World Trade Organization to facilitate trade and improve dispute resolution. At the same time, Canada and the European Union are working together to establish a new appeal mechanism so that arbitration of trade disputes can continue pending WTO reforms. A few weeks ago, 15 other countries supported this initiative. There is obviously work to be done, but this is a good example of the positive contribution that Canada is making to the rest of the world.
At the turn of this new decade, we’re facing big inescapable challenges, and many of them strike at the core of our democratic principles. The values we hold dear are coming under threat, and our commitment to uphold them is being tested. Journalists are being jailed, free speech is being restricted and calls for democracy are being suppressed. That's why we worked with the United Kingdom to establish a global pledge on media freedom, and with France and 33 other countries, we’re supporting the declaration on information and democracy, which commits countries to protect freedom of opinion and expression around the world.
Let us not forget that it is innocent men, women and children who suffer the devastating consequences of the ineffectiveness of the international community. The conflict in Syria and the tragic situation in Idlib are perfect examples of this. We cannot turn a blind eye to the failures of multilateralism; instead, we must learn from them.
Without constructive international engagement, prolonged local crises harm vulnerable people and expand into regional emergencies with global implications. That's why Canada has worked more closely than ever with our Latin American allies as part of the Lima group to defend democracy in Venezuela. That's also why we remain committed to supporting peace and stability in Iraq, particularly through our leadership of the NATO mission there. Together, as a community of nations, we’re making progress. Progress that simply would not have been achieved had we decided to take on these challenges on our own. And the threat of climate change is perhaps the best example of why we must continue to choose collaboration. It is the defining issue of our time; it will reshape our societies and the global economy. And above all, it threatens not only our way of life, but our very existence.
When I joined the other world leaders in signing the Paris Agreement, I pledged that Canada would do its part to meet this challenge. More than four years later, I stand before you more determined than ever to be a full partner in the international fight against climate change. Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, I will continue to be a champion for a price on pollution both at home and abroad, because a world where it is no longer free to pollute anywhere, is a world ready to defeat the climate crisis and seize the opportunities of a new era.
Let us be clear, I am not citing these examples because I believe that Canada is the only country that is making a positive contribution to the world. On the contrary, if we have made progress, it is precisely because we have been able to count on partners who are also pragmatic about the challenges we face, partners who are also ready to act.
You know, on Ukrainian Airlines flight 752, people of six different nationalities, with ties to many more countries were on board. This is the interconnected world in which we live. There is great promise in that world. A place where we benefit from the free exchange of ideas; where differences enrich us instead of weaken us; where our connections across borders make our communities a better and more resilient place to call home. That is a world worth fighting for.
When I first heard about the tragedy, one of the very first people I called was my friend, Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The Netherlands, along with ten other countries was struck by a tragedy all too similar six years ago when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down. While the loss of life is heartbreaking, the fact that this could happen more than once is appalling. So we must take action. Working with partners and building on the important work of the Netherlands following the downing of flight MH17, we are developing a safer skies initiative. By changing how countries work and share information together, we can improve aviation safety over and near conflict zones and prevent tragedies from happening again. Millions of people board a plane every day, and they shouldn't have to wonder whether they could become inadvertent targets.
This is just an example of something that as leaders we can do together, and only together, to make our world safer. But it shouldn't take tragedies for leaders and governments to act; just like it shouldn't take dire warnings of scientists or devastating wildfires for us to act on climate change. These forums bring together people who not only share challenges, but the power to act on them. For multilateralism to work, people have to be able to count on us to take on the problems both big and small that they cannot solve on their own.
Canada is ready to partner with old friends and new allies to do just that, and I know you are too. So, let's show the people we serve that we hear them, and that we will work together, because they deserve no less from all of us.
Vielen Dank. Thank you very much. Thank you all.