Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told New York University (NYU) students Wednesday that “female genital mutilation is wrong…and anthropogenic climate change is real — no matter how much some folks want to deny it.”
Trudeau has been criticized repeatedly by Canada’s official opposition Conservatives for his reluctance to condemn the largely Muslim practice of female genital mutilation.
Trudeau gave the keynote speech for the NYU graduating class gathered at Yankee Stadium. The university also awarded Trudeau with an honorary doctorate of law.
The prime minister wasted no time in getting to his favorite theme of diversity, saying “diversity doesn’t have to be a weakness; it can be our greatest strength.” He suggested that acceptance of diversity was something that was done particularly well by Canadians.
Trudeau told the cheering crowd that “we are not going to arrive at mutual respect if we cocoon ourselves in an ideological, social or intellectual bubble.”
He suggested, “We can aim a little higher than mere tolerance,” and said it was necessary to accept differences.
Borrowing a theme from former President Barack Obama, Trudeau said the rise of social media has enabled us to “engage with people with whom we already agree.” He suggested this would only lead to a political landscape of competing tribes.
“Do you want to win an argument or do you want to change the world?” Trudeau asked.
Trudeau described the occasion of being at “one of the greatest places [Yankee Stadium] in one of the greatest cities on earth” as “more than a little humbling.”
In his parting words, he urged the students, “You need to be brave,” while suggesting his best political advice for the class was to “seek out and find common ground.”