Post-presidential life remains incredibly busy for Barack Obama. First there was his highly publicized vacation, which has highlighted by a kitesurf photo-op and a few laughs with billionaire mogul, Richard Branson. Then 44 purchased some stately property in D.C. which will keep him ever so close to the madness near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and all throughout, he’s continued his active presence on social media.
Despite this ongoing press coverage, however, we haven’t had many opportunities to hear from the boss himself. Thankfully, Obama made a trip north of the border to visit his favourite bro, Justin Trudeau, and the two shared a meeting that promptly set Twitter on fire. Of course, the aforementioned PR opportunity was the highlight online, but the most important moment in Obama’s Canadian trip came during his keynote address at a conference for the Montreal Board of Trade.
Obama opened the talk with a witty remark, stating “I have to point out that one of the things I love about Montreal is that there’s a high percentage of Michelles here.” He also used the platform to speak on a number of important issues, including climate change and growing fears of public safety in the light of recent terrorist attacks. The former leader was true to form and kept it classy throughout his keynote, but there were some not-so-subtle jabs aimed at the current White House Administration. “In Paris, we came together around the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change. An agreement that even with the temporary absence of American leadership will still give our children a fighting chance,” he told attendees.
The POTUS evoked some melancholic nostalgia in the crowd when he spoke about the importance of hope and how to properly combat fear. “When we lead with our hopes and not our fears, we are capable of doing things that other nations cannot or will not do,” he told his audience. “Canada shows, the United States, Europe, Japan show that it is possible for us to overcome our fears and to reach across our divides and to think anew and act anew and emerge stronger than before. That’s what we did after World War II.”
On the tragic events that took place in London last weekend, Obama stated that it was an organized strike on the freedom of democracy. “This was not an attack on a military target, it was an attack on ordinary people gathering in a public space and as such it was an attack on free and open societies and on the spirit of democracy itself.” Rather than stoke the fires of intolerance, Obama heeded everyone to push forward. “If we can shrink the circles of despair and fear and build a landscape of hope, that ultimately is the best security policy we can come up with.”
The Montreal Board of Trade made 6000 tickets available to the public, which were quickly sold out in one day. If you were not one of the lucky few, you can watch the entire address via Global News above.