President Obama receives ‘extraordinary welcome’ during speech to Canadian Parliament

Ottawa, June 30, 2016 (GMN) - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invented a word to describe what happened in Ottawa on Wednesday during the Three Amigos Summit — “dudeplomacy.” Groanworthy as it may be, it’s not far from capturing the air of brotherly love between Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, as evidenced by an awkward three-way handshake that made headlines across the continent.

The three world leaders got down to business during the historic meeting, the first one Canada has hosted in about a decade. They signed a comprehensive North American climate, clean energy and environment partnership and committed themselves to better protecting the LGBT community.

During a joint press conference, each leader denounced the isolationism of Brexit and the “demagoguery” of politicians like Donald Trump, although they were careful not to directly challenge his candidacy.

But bromance burned brightest at the very end, after Pena Nieto went home, when Obama addressed the House of Commons.

“Thank you for this extraordinary welcome, which tempts me to just shut up and leave because it can’t get any better than this,” Obama began.

But continue he did, for a full 50 minutes, touching on everything from equal pay for women and climate change to economic justice.

When he was finished, the floor erupted into a chorus of “Four more years! Four more years!”

Obama delivers address to rapturous Parliament

In the wake of Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, Obama’s speech reaffirmed the role that Canada and the United States can play to promote progressive social and economic policies in a globalized society.

“We must not waver in embracing our values, our best selves, our histories as nations of immigrants,” he said.

Obama cautioned that isolationism is not a solution to economic problems, and he chastised politicians who take advantage of the public’s real concerns about growing inequality and poverty by playing on their xenophobia.

“Even if we wanted to, we can’t seal ourselves off from the world,” he said.

It clearly went over well with parliamentarians, who gave standing ovation after standing ovation. Obama praised Canadian troops, and the co-operation between the two countries during the Iraq war.

“We will destroy the terrorist group ISIL, we will destroy them,” Obama said, referring to Daesh.

“The world needs more Canada,” Obama said, taking a moment to demand that Canada contribute more money to NATO.

It wasn’t all serious though. Obama thanked Canada for helping to broker negotiations between Cuba and America, and cheekily jabbed at this country’s penchant for cheap tropical vacations.

“I know a lot of Canadians like going to Cuba, maybe because they haven’t had Americans crowding the streets and beaches. But that’s changing,” he joked.

He also used his speech to solidify his much-covered friendship with Trudeau, commenting on their shared commitment towards building a better world for their children.

“A country is something that is built everyday out of shared values,” he said, twice, quoting Trudeau’s father.

On populism:

Obama went a bit off-script toward the end of the joint press conference, choosing to go on a “rant” — his own words — about the misunderstanding of the word “populism.” Pena Nieto and the media had repeatedly referred to Trump’s style of leadership and the anti-immigration sentiments of Brexit as populist.

“I’m not prepared to concede the notion that some of the rhetoric popping up is populist,” he said.

Obama said his electoral victory, based on a platform about improving the lives of workers and lower and middle-class people, proves that “populism” is not a synonym for “cynicism.”

“Somebody else, who has never shown any regard for workers . . . they don’t suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes. That’s not the definition of populism, that’s nativism or xenophobia, or worse,” he said.

“Let’s just be clear, somebody who labels us versus them, or engages in rhetoric about how we’re going to look out for ourselves and take it to the other guy, that’s not the definition of populism. Sorry.” ( The Star)