Canada prime minister Justin Trudeau returned to Davos with a defense of free trade and more hiring, promotion, and retention of women by businesses.
It was an inclusive rallying cry in a World Economic Forum annual meeting that began with India prime minister Narendra Modi and will close with Donald Trump, and establishes Trudeau, once again, as the clear flag bearer for a progressive world view.
Trudeau announced that the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership had agreed to the trade agreement without the United States. (Trump withdrew from the negotiations during his first week in office.) “People have increasingly become convinced that trade deals benefit the few and not the many,” said Trudeau. “The challenge that Canada as both a progressive and trading nation has faced is how do we put those two things together.”
Trudeau never mentioned Donald Trump by name, but he alluded to their differences on trade: “We’re working very hard to ensure that our neighbor to the south appreciates how very good NAFTA is and how it has benefited his economy and the world’s economy.”
He said the only approach was “to put the concerns and well-being of our citizens at the core of what we’re negotiating.”
Trudeau challenged business leaders to hire, promote, and retain more women. “Not because it’s the right thing to do or the nice thing to do,” he said. “Because it’s the smart thing to do.” Trudeau highlighted the tangible economic benefits that come from bringing women more deeply into the workforce. “The inclusion of women could bring innovation to another level, and make it easier to resolve conflicts,” he said.
Trudeau said leaders should prioritize gender pay equity, better parental leave and child care policies—and believe women who came forward with stories of sexual harassment. “Treat these as fundamental shifts in the way we operate.”