Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a new Trans-Pacific trade deal would create “well paying middle class jobs for decades to come” even though it did not involve the United States, in a speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday.
The Canadian Prime Minister announced ten countries had reached a “comprehensive and progressive” Trans-Pacific Partnership in Tokyo with mainly Asian countries, reviving a pact Washington withdrew from after US President Donald Trump’s election.
Speaking at the gathering, Mr Trudeau repeatedly warned of the risk that the benefits of economic growth were not felt by all, noting “the ripple effect of economic uncertainty play out around the world” and that “we must ensure the benefits are shared”.
Taking aim at corporate greed, he added “too many corporations have single-mindedly put the pursuit of profit ahead of the well-being of workers”.
Mr Trudeau made gender equality and sexual harassment a central tenant of his speech, calling for the “hiring, promoting and retaining of more women” in business. As an example. he claimed that parity between the sexes could add $1.75 trillion to US GDP.
He reminded the audience that his had introduced Canada’s first cabinet of gender-parity, and the performance of his female ministers has been a success.
He said the gender equality in the workplace required “willingness to change the nature of work as we know it”.
Referring to recent campaigns against sexual assault, including the “me too” campaign, he said: “these movements show us we must have a critical discussion on women’s rights, equality and the power dynamics of gender.
Sexual harassment in business and government is a systemic problem and it is unacceptable. As leaders, we must recognise and act to truly show that time is up.”
His office had also billed the speech as a preview to the G7 summit, set to take place later this year in Quebec. Mr Trudeau told the audience that gender equality would be the “priority of everything the G7 does later this year”.
However, not all are convinced by Mr Trudeau’s track record. Jamie Drummond, executive director of the development group One, told The Guardian’s live blog;
“It’s so exasperating that prime minister Justin Trudeau will make another great speech today while the facts point in a shocking direction.
"Smart aid rates under Trudeau are lower than under his conservative predecessor Stephen Harper, the money he loudly promised would be new to fight aids, TB and malaria was in fact not new, and his feminist foreign policy is not backed by new funds.
"This can and must change now.”
He added: “And if Davos doesn’t pressure leaders like Trudeau to be the best they can be, or hold them accountable, this gathering is a self-defeating backslapping waste of time the world doesn’t have.”
Mr Trudeau’s speech was the second major speech at Davos, following Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s opening keynote address on Tuesday morning.
2018 sees the 48th WEF, and this year's theme of “creating a shared future in a fractured world” has bought together some 2,5000 participants from 100 countries including nearly 70 heads of state.