At U.N., Canada and Mexico Speak of the (North) American Dream
Justin Trudeau talks equality while Mexico’s Foreign Minister touts multilateralism.
In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Donald Trump urged every country to look out for itself. On Thursday, his northern and southern neighbors, represented by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, respectively, seemed to say the very opposite: That no country can go it alone, and that every country is accountable to the United Nations.
Trudeau, who opened by offering Canada’s condolences to Mexico in the wake of a devastating earthquake, spent much of his speech essentially subtweeting the Trump administration’s policies. After speaking at length of Canada’s historically troubled relationship with its indigenous peoples, Trudeau said: “For all the mistakes we’ve made, we remain hopeful that we can do better and be better and treat each other with the dignity and respect that is the birthright of every human being.”
His seemingly domestic focus offered a way to tweak Trump’s approach, albeit indirectly.
“Equality is for everyone, regardless of our gender, origins, belief, or the person we choose to love. And we have the responsibility to take better care of the environment, which we all share,” he said, tidily taking aim at a handful of controversial U.S. policy reversals since January.
After the Trump administration made clear it is determined to abandon the Paris climate change accords, Trudeau said, “There is no country on the planet that can walk away from the challenge and reality of climate change.” Only Syria and the United States now reject the environmental accord, after Nicaragua tardily embraced the pact.
Videgaray had a similar message, albeit one more directly delivered. The foreign minister, who thanked the world, and specifically the United States, for its solidarity after this week’s devastating earthquake, said no one country could solve all problems alone. He took direct aim at Trump’s relentless focus on sovereignty in his debut speech at the U.N., calling the choice between sovereignty and open borders a “false dilemma.”
“Mexico reaffirms its openness to the world,” Videgaray said.
Videgaray also waded into the U.S. debate over immigration policy, saying he was “proud” of all Mexicans in the United States, regardless of their legal status, and saying he was “especially proud” of the so-called Dreamers — undocumented children who have grown up in the United States, but whom Trump has recently threatened to expel.
While acknowledging at a press conference later that immigration policy is “something to be decided by Americans and Americans alone,” he made clear that “we as the government of Mexico have an obligation — a legal and moral obligation — to protect and support Mexicans wherever they are in the world, including the U.S.”
Mexico has been working with the U.N. to monitor potential human rights violations by the U.S. government against Mexican nationals, he said.
“We believe the rules of the land should prevail,” Videgaray said. “But that includes human rights.”
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