Trudeau embarks on whirlwind NYC day


NEW YORK – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau found himself in the midst of a whirlwind 10-meeting day in New York City on Wednesday as he prepares Canada’s campaign for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Trudeau was scheduled to attend one-on-one meetings with seven world leaders, plus separate public forums with Bloomberg and activist Melinda Gates, as well as a speech at Madison Square Garden the day before he speaks to the UN General Assembly.

Bilateral meetings were scheduled with the leaders of Tajikistan, the Netherlands, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Uganda and Indonesia — enough, one spokesman speculated, for a personal record for the number of bilaterals in a single day.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into this,” said Trudeau spokesman Cameron Ahmad. “Obviously we have a voice on the world stage…. We generally believe Canada can play an active role.”

Prior to those meetings, Trudeau took part in the Bloomberg Global Business Forum to promote his so-called progressive trade agenda. The prime minister has told New York audiences that bolstering labour protections, gender equality and Indigenous rights is designed to help more people feel the benefits of trade and preserve support for international commerce.

The prime minister also participated in an armchair discussion with U.S. philanthropist Gates to talk about women’s rights before speaking to more than 6,000 young people at We Day UN about youth engagement in politics.

He told Gates about how his dad believed in human rights, but couldn’t be called a feminist — and how Trudeau himself had a sudden epiphany one day when he realized the term applies to anyone who believes in working for greater equality.

“There is a reclaiming of that word, in a good way,” he said.

Ahmad said Trudeau’s meetings with leaders from a diverse array of regions means he will wind up discussing a gamut of the world’s ongoing crises.

The meeting with Indonesia will include an exchange about atrocities against Burma’s Muslim minority, while those with the Latin Americans will touch upon the political and economic crisis roiling Venezuela, he said.

Trudeau doesn’t have a meeting planned with U.S. President Donald Trump, but his events brought him close to two predecessors: Bill Clinton spoke before him at the Bloomberg event, and Barack Obama was speaking after him at the Gates event.