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 we 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 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, did not come about merely through the happy circumstance of geography, but was compounded of one part proximity and nine parts goodwill and common sense.” It is that enduring goodwill and common sense 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 occasion 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 he still invited us over for dinner. 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 heritage though 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. I think the reason goodwill and common sense come 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 its 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 closet 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 realized 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. One of our most popular exports to the United States, and I need you to stop teasing him, has been another Justin. [laughter] Now, that kid has had a great year. [laughter] Of course, leave it to a Canadian to reach international fame with a song called “Sorry.” [laughter]
Together, Canada and the U.S. negotiated trade agreements that 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 own borders, and across generations. Which means getting rid of that outdated notion that a healthy environment and a strong economy stand in opposition of one another. 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, 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.
[Trudeau then addresses the room in 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] 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 is 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. 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 gray hair come in at a much slower rate than yours has.
And with that, on behalf of 36 billion Americans, I propose a toast to the President, to the First Lady, to the people of the United States of America. Cheers.