President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau Deliver Remarks at State Dinner

The President: On behalf of
Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House
as we host Prime Minister Trudeau, Mrs.
Grégoire-Trudeau and the Canadian delegation for
the first official visit and state dinner with Canada
in nearly 20 years. We intend to
have fun tonight. But not too much. (laughter) If things get out of hand,
remember that the Prime Minister used to
work as a bouncer. (laughter) Truly. (laughter) So tonight, history
comes full circle. Forty-four years ago,
President Nixon made a visit to Ottawa. And he was hosted by Prime
Minister Pierre Trudeau. (applause) At a private dinner,
there was a toast. “Tonight, we’ll dispense
with the formalities, ” President Nixon said, “I’d
like to propose a toast to the future Prime Minister
of Canada — Justin Pierre Trudeau.” (laughter) He was four months
at the time. (laughter) All these years later, the
prediction has come to pass. Mr. Prime Minister,
after today, I think it’s fair to say
that, here in America, you may well be the most
popular Canadian named Justin. (laughter and applause) I said this morning that
Americans and Canadians are family. And tonight, I want to
recognize two people who mean so much to me and
Michelle and our family. First of all, my
wonderful brother-in-law, originally from Burlington,
Ontario — Konrad Ng. (applause) This is actually an
interesting story, though, that I was not aware of —
Konrad indicated to me when we saw each other this
afternoon that part of the reason his family was able
to immigrate to Canada was because of policies adopted
by Justin’s father. And so had that
not happened, he might not have met my
sister, in which case, my lovely nieces might
not have been born. (laughter) So this is yet one more debt
that we owe the people of Canada (laughter) In addition, a true friend
and a member of my team who has been with me every step
of the way — he is from Toronto and Victoria,
and also a frequent golf partner, Marvin Nicholson. (applause) So as you can see, they’ve
infiltrated all of our ranks. (laughter) Before I ever
became President, when we celebrated my sister
and Konrad’s marriage, Michelle and I took our
daughters to Canada. And we went to Burlington
and — this is always tough — Mississauga. (laughter) And then we went to
Toronto and Niagara Falls. (laughter) Mississauga. I can do that. (laughter) And everywhere we went, the
Canadian people made us feel right at home. And tonight, we want our
Canadians friends to feel at home. So this is not a
dinner, it’s supper. (laughter) We thought of serving
up some poutine. (laughter) I was going to
bring a two-four. (laughter) And then we’d finish off the
night with a double-double. (laughter) But I had to draw the line
at getting milk out of a bag — (laughter) — this, we
Americans do not understand. (laughter) We do, however, have a
little Canadian whiskey. That, we do understand. (laughter) This visit has been a
celebration of the values that we share. We, as a peoples, are
committed to the principles of equality and opportunity
— the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules,
you can make it if you try, no matter what the
circumstances of your birth, in both of our countries. And we see this in our
current presidential campaign. After all, where else could
a boy born in Calgary grow up to run for President
of the United States? (laughter and applause) Where else would we see a
community like Cape Breton, Nova Scotia welcoming
Americans if the election does not go their way? (laughter) And to the great
credit of their people, Canadians from British
Columbia to New Brunswick have, so far, rejected the
idea of building a wall to keep out your
southern neighbors. (laughter) We appreciate that. (laughter) We can be unruly, I know. On a serious note, this
visit reminds us of what we love about Canada. It’s the solidarity shown by
so many Canadians after 9/11 when they welcomed stranded
American travelers into their homes. It’s the courage of
your servicemembers, standing with us in
Afghanistan and now in Iraq. It’s the compassion of the
Canadian people welcoming refugees — and the
Prime Minister himself, who told those refugees,
“You’re safe at home now.” Justin, we also see Canada’s
spirit in your mother’s brave advocacy for mental
health care — and I want to give a special welcome to
Margaret Trudeau tonight. (applause) And we see Canada’s spirit
in Sophie — a champion of women and girls, because our
daughters deserve the same opportunities that
anybody’s sons do. And this spirit reminds us
of why we’re all here — why we serve. Justin, Sophie, your
children are still young. They are adorable and they
still let you hug them. (laughter) When we first spoke on the
phone after your election, we talked not only as
President and Prime Minister, but
also as fathers. When I was first
elected to this office, Malia was 10 and
Sasha was just seven. And they grow up too fast. This fall, Malia
heads off to college. And I’m starting
to choke up. (laughter) So I’m going to wind this
— it was in my remarks — (laughter) — and I
didn’t — I can’t do it. It’s hard. (laughter) But there is a point
to this, though, and that is that we’re
not here for power. We’re not here for
fame or fortune. We’re here for our kids. We’re here for everybody’s
kids — to give our sons and our daughters
a better world. To pass to them a world
that’s a little safer, and a little more equal,
and a little more just, a little more prosperous so
that a young person growing up in Chicago or Montreal
or on the other side of the world has every opportunity
to make of their life what they will, no matter who
they are or what they look like, or how they
pray or who they love. Justin, I believe there are
no better words to guide us in this work than those you
once used to describe what your father taught you and
your siblings — to believe in yourself. To stand up for ourselves. To know ourselves, and to
accept responsibility for ourselves. To show a genuine and deep
respect for each other and for every human being. And so I would like to
propose a toast — to the great alliance between the
United States and Canada; to our friends,
Justin and Sophie; to the friendship between
Americans and Canadians and the spirit that binds us
together — a genuine and deep and abiding respect for
each and every human being. Cheers. Prime Minister Trudeau: Dear
friends, Mr. President, Barack, Michelle, all
of you gathered here, it is an extraordinary honor
for me to be here with you tonight. Thank you so much for the
warm welcome you’ve extended to Canada and to the
Canadian delegation, and to Sophie and
me, personally. It’s incredibly touching to
be able to be here not just as a couple, Sophie and I,
but to have been able to bring our families
down as well. Sophie’s mom and dad,
Estelle and Jean — get a load of Estelle, I’m looking
forward to the future with Sophie. (laughter) And, of course, my
own mother, Margaret, whose last State Dinner
here was in 1977. So it’s wonderful
to have you here. It’s also touching to
meet Malia and Sasha, who are here at their
first State Dinner. And quite frankly, the
memories for me of being a kid and not being old enough
to attend these kinds of events with my father almost
makes me wish I had gone through my teenage years as
a child of a world leader — but not quite. (laughter) I admire you very
much, both of you, for your extraordinary
strength and your grace, through what is a remarkable
childhood and young adulthood that will give you
extraordinary strength and wisdom beyond your years
for the rest of your life. The one thing that you
have received from your extraordinary parents is the
tools to be able to handle the challenges and the
opportunities in front of you. So thank you very much
for joining us tonight. (applause) In thinking about what I
wanted to say this evening, I came across a quote
from President Truman, who shared these words with
the Canadian Parliament nearly 70 years ago. He said that Canada’s
relationship with the United States did not develop
spontaneously. It did not come about
merely through the happy circumstance of geography,
but was “compounded of one part proximity, and nine
parts good will and commonsense.” It is that enduring good
will and commonsense that I believe defines our
relationship to this day. It’s what makes our
constructive partnership possible. It’s what allows us to
respectfully disagree and remain friends and allies
on the few occasions we do. For example I would argue
that it’s better to be the leader of a country that
consistently wins Olympic gold medals in hockey. (laughter and applause) President Obama would
likely disagree. And yet, you still invited
us over for dinner. (laughter) Because that’s
what friends do. (laughter) Because, now that
I think of it, we’re actually
closer than friends. We’re more like
siblings, really. We have shared parentage,
but we took different paths in our later years. We became the stay-at-home type — (laughter) — and you grew to be a
little more rebellious. (laughter) I think the reason that good
will and commonsense comes so easily is because we are
Canadians and Americans alike, guided by the
same core values. Values like cooperation
and respect. Cooperation because it keeps
us safe and prosperous. And respect because it’s
the surest path to both safeguarding the world we
share and honoring the diverse people with
whom we share it. When it comes to
security, for example, we agree that our countries
are stronger and the world is safer when we
work together. For more than
half a century, we’ve joined forces to
protect our continent. And we’ve been the closest
of allies overseas for even longer, fighting together
on the beaches of France, standing shoulder to
shoulder with our European partners in NATO, and
now confronting violent extremism in
the Middle East. In every instance, we
realize that our concerns were better addressed
together than alone, and together, we have
realized the longest, most peaceful, and most
mutually beneficial relationship of any two
countries since the birth of the nation state. It’s a relationship that
doesn’t just serve its own interests — it serves
the entire world. Canadians and Americans
also value economic interdependence, because we
know that it brings greater prosperity for all of us. Over $2.4 billion worth of
goods and services cross the border every day — evidence
of one of the largest and most mutually beneficial
trading relationships in the world. And one of our most popular
exports to the United States, and I need you
to stop teasing him, has been another Justin. (laughter) Now, no, no, that kid
has had a great year. (laughter) And of course, leave it
to a Canadian to reach international fame with
a song called “Sorry.” (laughter and applause) Together, Canada
and the U.S. negotiated trade agreements
that have expanded opportunities for
our businesses, created millions of good,
well-paying jobs for our workers, and made products
more affordable for more Canadian and
American families. We must never take that
partnership for granted, and I can promise you that
my government never will. But nor should we forget
that our responsibilities extend beyond our ruling
borders and across generations, which means
getting rid of that outdated notion that a health
environment and a strong economy stand in
opposition to one another. And it means that when we
come to issues like climate change, we need to
acknowledge that we are all in this together. Our children and
grandchildren will judge us not by the words we said,
but by the actions we took — or failed to take. If we truly wish to leave
them a better world than the one we inherited from our
own parents — and I know, Mr. President, that you and
the First Lady want this as strongly as Sophie and I do — we cannot deny the science. We cannot pretend that
climate change is still up for debate. (speaks French) Thank you, Mr. President,
for your leadership — your global leadership on the
pressing issue of the environment and
climate change. (applause) And finally, we believe —
Canadians and Americans — in the fundamental truth
that diversity can be a source of strength. That we are thriving and
prosperous countries not in spite of our differences
but because of them. Canadians know this. It’s why communities across
the country welcomed more than 25,000 Syrian refugees
over the past four months. (applause) And not as visitors or
temporary citizens, but as Canadians. But of course, Americans
understand this, too. It’s why each generation has
welcomed newcomers seeking liberty and the promise
of a better life. It’s what has made America
great over the past decades. We know that if we seek
to be even greater, we must do greater things
— be more compassionate, be more accepting, be more
open to those who dress differently or eat
different foods, or speak different
languages. Our identities as Canadians
and Americans are enriched by these differences,
not threatened by them. On our own, we
make progress. But together, our two
countries make history. Duty-bound, loyal,
and forever linked, whatever the future holds,
we will face it together. Neighbors, partners,
allies, and friends. This is our experience and
our example to the world. Barack, thank you for all
that you have done these past seven years to preserve
this most important relationship. May the special connection
between our two countries continue to flourish
in the years to come, and may my grey hair come in
at a much slower rate than yours has. (laughter) And with that, on behalf
of 36 million Americans, I propose a toast
to the President, to the First Lady, and to
the people of the United States of America. Cheers. (applause)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*