Former U.S. president Obama speaks in Toronto; fans say they left ‘inspired’


TORONTO — People who heard Barack Obama speak in Toronto say they found his talk, which focused on youth and the future, inspiring.

“The reason I won was because I trusted young people, and trained them, to go into communities and do amazing work,” the former U.S. president said.

Friday’s event, which cost $1,000 per plate, was closed to the media. Organizer Ottawa-based think-tank Canada 2020 tweeted quotes from his speech which was expected to draw an audience of about 3,000.

People who attended said Obama looked to the future, focusing on democracy, civil engagement and youth.

“He still has this incredible optimism about Canada, the U.S., the world, in spite of how challenging our times are right now. It’s very good for us to hear that,” Glenda Rissman said.

Sharing a similar sentiment, Cynthia Dale said her “first takeaway is how inspiring it was and how ludicrously humble he is. He’s so humble about what he did and what he continues to do.”

An American family visiting Toronto waited outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for several hours, hoping to catch a glimpse of Obama.

Sylvianna and Andrew Kaplan said they are grateful for the Obama administration, especially when it comes to health care. With the threat of an repeal under the Trump administration, anxieties are high for the parents who have two young-adult dependents.

“Its (health-care policies) have benefited our children. Both of them are young adults, but they still fall under our health-care plan. The biggest benefit is that they’re still under our insurance,” Sylvianna said.

A group of high school students skipped class to see the former president.

It was “an experience you can’t get in school,” Abby Mcclellan said.

Ava De Pagter said she loves just “what he stands for; everyone should be equal. No matter the race or gender.”

Obama was in town just one day after Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state, came to the city to promote her book.

The former president was later spotted with Prince Harry at the Invictus Games.


The Canadian Press


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