Time leaders ‘get real’ about economic anxieties, Trudeau tells Germans

‘No more brushing aside the concerns of our workers and our citizens,’ Trudeau says at black tie dinner event in Hamburg

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the St.Matthew's Day banquet in Hamburg, Germany Friday February 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the St.Matthew’s Day banquet in Hamburg, Germany Friday February 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

HAMBURG – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used one of Germany’s most prestigious black-tie galas to tell business leaders to “get real” about the addressing the anxieties of their workers in an uncertain world.

Trudeau delivered the no-holds-barred message to an audience of 400 politicians, business leaders and other notables at the annual St. Matthew’s Banquet in the opulent Hamburg city hall.

The St. Matthew’s Banquet is a 700-year-old event in which the elders of the city-states invited foreign guests to celebrate their friendship. It has heard from kings, presidents, mayors and others in what is now Germany’s second-largest city.

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Last year, former British prime minister David Cameron addressed the gathering and laid out his plan for battling his country’s Brexit forces. Cameron failed and Britons voted to leave the European Union, part of a global wave of disruption that culminated with Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the November presidential election.

Officials say Trudeau was mindful of the whirlwind global changes that have taken place since, especially in Europe – rising anti-trade resentment and a backlash against immigration – when he accepted the invitation to address the banquet.

Trudeau has spoken repeatedly in Europe this week about the need for politicians to address the “anxieties” of working people, who are fearful of the pace of change, and of being left behind in the globalized world.

And he has spoken of the need for politicians to do a better job explaining the tangible benefits of agreements such as Canada’s free trade deal with the European Union – a pact the European Parliament ratified earlier in the week over the objections of a vocal civil society movement.

But the prime minister ramped up the message on Friday night in Hamburg, all but telling the corporate elite seated before him to shape up, and stop profiting at the expense of their employees.

“No more brushing aside the concerns of our workers and our citizens,” the prime minister said in prepared remarks. “We have to address the root cause of their worries, and get real about how the changing economy is impacting peoples’ lives.”

He even adopted some of the language of anti-trade movements.

“When companies post record profits on the backs of workers consistently refused full-time work – and the job security that comes with it – people get defeated,” he said.

“Increasingly, inequality has made citizens distrust their governments, distrust their employers. It turns into ‘us versus them.”’

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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called Trudeau a friend of Europe and praised the Canada-EU free trade deal as an answer to the “new nationalism” in the United States.

Trudeau said the anxiety of working people is turning into anger, and politicians and business leaders need to take heed and take “long-term responsibility” for workers, their families, and the communities in which they operate.

“For business leaders, it’s about thinking beyond your short-term responsibility to your shareholders,” Trudeau said.

“It’s time to pay a living wage, to pay your taxes. And give your workers the benefits – and peace of mind – that come with stable, full-time contracts.”

He said employers can’t leave their employees feeling “overworked and undervalued” and must find ways to help them “modernize their skills for a changing world.”

The prime minister also flaunted his feminism, saying: “When you hear that an employee is expecting a child, congratulate her. Don’t make her question whether or not she’ll have a job to come back to.”

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Olaf Scholz, the first mayor of Hamburg, introduced Trudeau by saying he was honouring Germany by attending the banquet.

“How you defend openness, humanity and progress in words and deeds makes Canada a role model for us as well as for the liberal and social forces around the world,” Scholz said.

“It’s just like Leonard Cohen (wrote) … ‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”’

Trudeau said he understood the “irony of preaching about the struggles of the middle class to a sea of tuxedoes and ball gowns, while wearing a bow-tie myself.”

Trudeau also noted that his government raised taxes on the wealthiest one per cent while improving child tax benefits. He said his government is “on track” to reduce child poverty in Canada by 40 per cent.

“Whether you’re a business or a government, it’s time to realize that this anger and anxiety we see washing over the world is coming from a very real place,” he said.

“And it’s not going away.”


Time leaders ‘get real’ about economic anxieties, Trudeau tells Germans

  1. Canada has been thrust into a leadership role on this subject. I know this description is not the Jane Austen meaning….but Canada is showing “sense” and “sensibility” on this issue. People just want the world to be fair to them. So smarten up before the rabble start breaking down your door.

  2. Automation has been around for a very long time…..and as the Luddites discovered, it’s not going away.

    There is nothing the govt can do about it either……so screaming and rioting and strikes and all that….don’t work.

    Life isn’t, and never was, ‘fair’…..and ‘rabble’ get shot.

    Get over it

    • https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-02-16/koch-backed-group-squares-off-against-paul-ryan-on-import-tax

      You see who the POTUS is and you still don’t get it. 1 percent have more than the 99 percent combined and the government of the US ….Paul Ryan, head of the Republican Party in particular….. wants to give tax cuts that will benefit only that 1 percent and pay for it with border taxes that will make us for the short fall by sticking it to the poor who shop at places like Walmart. You want people to “get over it?” He also wants to pay for the short fall by stopping Obamacare. So how can you say “there is nothing the government can do about it either….”. This isn’t about automation. This about unfair taxation. This is about making laws that financially benefit one small class of people pretending that they result in job growth when they do not as proven by George Bush’s government doing the exact same thing and it not resulting in jobs. Strikes do work when one works in a essential service like the police, healthcare, garbage collection. The public doesn’t like to be inconvenienced and they sure don’t like to arrive at a hospital and find no where there to care for them. Protests and boycotts work as well. Ivanka Trump is finding that the “grab your wallet” boycott is hurting her bottom line.

      • No Gage…..it’s about automation.

        Politicians come and go.

    • When the central banks give the banksters, elites, and 1%’ers free or nearly free money, and prints trillions of new dollars, there is a lot of money to finance automation basically for free at the expense of labour, savers, and pension funds.

      The price-fixing of money is favour of the elites over working people, Wall Street and Bay Street over Main Street leads to the distortion of capital vs. labour.

      • I don’t speak word-salad.

        • http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/02/paul-ryans-dream-of-tax-cuts-for-rich-will-not-be-denied.html

          Automation has been a reality since the early years of manufucaturing and farming. Adaptation to automation is what people need help with. They need help the ability to change course. To do so, there needs to be money in coffers and a flexible mindset and the 1 percent need to pay taxes. We cannot buy into the fallacy that they are using the tax savings to grow jobs because they are not.

          • Actually people AREN”T all that flexible. After all Luddites started in about 1812 to protest automation….and people are still doing it.

            However, protests and strikes just don’t work. The world simply moves on without them

            Yes, people can retrain for other jobs when their original one disappears…..but as you can see from the article….mostly they don’t do that.

            Guy in there is an unemployed welder…..and he refuses to retrain…..so he’s going to be on welfare. Not good for him or society.

            What is the govt supposed to do about it?

            They can’t ‘create’ jobs in spite of what they tell you at election time.

            The world has always had a 1%….rich people…..it’s not new… Even in the caves some people had more beads than others.

            So we have a 1%…..and we also have a 5% and a 20% and so on. We’re not a poor country.

            What you’re talking about is ‘make the rich pay’. That’s NDP policy. Socialism.

            And that money can’t create jobs either

            Shortly we’ll be using driverless vehicles.

            The most common job on the planet is…..driver.

            What is the govt supposed to do with millions of unemployed truck and taxi and delivery van drivers?

            And that is only one kind of job

            What can money do for it? Other than provide welfare?

            That is not sustainable.

            You see the problem?

          • http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/02/paul-ryans-dream-of-tax-cuts-for-rich-will-not-be-denied.html

            The truth is women are flexible. They have had to be. We have come a long way baby and so have many professions. Some don’t even exist anymore. The government takes our tax money and they decide what programs are offered in schools so to say they have no job to play is just foolish. The government cut funding to nursing programs when there is a world wide shortage. Of course people must be realistic but the government must provide funding for programs that offer the best education for the future. As for the 1 percent always going to be there….the inequality only rises and it rises because of agendas by certain politicians and sadly the people who vote for them are such low information voters they don’t even know what they just voted for. I am not talking about socialism. I am talking about tax breaks for everyone, not the 1 percent vs. Everyone else.

          • Women aren’t any more flexible than men. And getting women to be welders is interesting….but isn’t going to solve the problem.

            Schools told us a lot of things that weren’t true.

            Tax breaks won’t solve anything either We’ve been doing that for ages.

            It’s a new world, baby.

          • History would show you are completely wrong Emily. Look at the last 150 years. Women have moved from being chattel, belonging to men, forced to wear dresses, forced to work only in the home to evolve into becoming leaders in politics and leaders in industry. A woman received the Nobel prize in mathematics. Women are astronauts. Women are completely flexible. My mother gave birth to and raised nine children. Had a hysterectomy with her ninth, took 2 months off and returned to teaching full time. She started working on her degree when that babe was 8 months old at night school at summer school and received her degree at age 44, all that time raising those nine kids and working full time. Every one of those nine kids are successful, law abiding, tax paying citizens and many have gone on to university as have their children. My father became a successful businessman but he could never have accomplished what he did without my mother. My aunt was the only Woman in her Bacherlor of pharmacy class at the University of Alberta in 1937. Women are flexible and ever evolving. They are taking over the universities as students, just as the article pointed out. Tax breaks help with everything. They keep more money in the pockets of taxpayers. They help us give our children an education. They help us give ourselves an education. If you think the government spends our money wisely, I have news for you, as a civil servant, I can assure they do not. If you think the Con’s gazebo was one off, you are sadly mistaken. Wastage is a common practice when no one is accountable for the money spent. As a civil servant, I also call IT about a computer outage at least once a week so I am not as confident as you are about how smoothly we will be transitioning to driverless cars and complete automation. These computing systems have glitches and the computers go down fairly often. In operating rooms and in factories, humans are there running the automated computerized systems. They have not developed to a point where they do not freeze or lockout or need human intervention. My iPad locked out and I had to go to see a tech at the Apple Store to reset it. Some how it doesn’t give a person a whole lot of confidence that a bunch of driverless semi trucks will be barrelling down the 40l highway in the near future.

          • Yes Gage, women have done all that. But we’ve also spent centuries trying to get what men already have. Hepatica was a mathematician and astronomer in 400 BCE

            She was murdered in the street by the same kind of ignorant morons that exist today……and do the same things to women.

            I was in the air force Gage……I know how the govt …..any party…..spends money.

            The GST was cut back…..how much have you saved since then? Do you know? Reagan cut taxes…..has it made any difference?

            And the more we cut taxes the less money we have for that education.

            A laptop isn’t remotely the same as the AI systems running things like traffic systems and medical equipment.

            Plants can operate entirely without people. It’s called lights-out technology.

            I appreciate your sentiments……but we are moving to a new level

            Millions of people will be out of work….most of them cannot or will not retrain. It isn’t the fault of Muslims or immigrants or anything else……like factories moving……but of course politicians will aim the working class anger in that direction. Trump just became president by scapegoating other people instead of telling Americans the truth

            Maglev trains will eliminate any barreling down the 401

            It’s a new world

          • Women don’t want what men have. Women want to be free to be themselves and get paid on par with men. They want to excel in schools just like they are doing without being told they aren’t wired to do well in mathematics or sciences. They want to be leaders without being told they are taking jobs away from men who aren’t willing to work as hard as they do. They want to be able to live and work without some a$$hole grabbing their pu$$y because he feels like it.

          • All of which has nothing to do with automation.

            I think we’ve run this one out Gage…..see you on the flip side.

  3. Once again the Canadian prime minister saying what needs to be said, mind, in Canada the rampant House price speculation which beggars the middle class, he does nothing about, his government claims like the smoking lobby that there is no conclusive issue here.
    While Canda according to the Panama papers is the bucket list to establish a shell corporation which is one of the chief tools which the category he has in mind use to evade paying their share of contributions.
    One of the guarantees to a middle class old age, i.e pensions, his government wants to regulate as optional
    by his newly introduced bill C-27. But yes he certainly talks the talk and the media gobbles it up.
    Maybe Trump has a point?

    • Only at the top of his head.