Barack Obama was in Montreal Tuesday night to speak to a sold-out crowd of 6,000, including hundreds of VIPs from the political, business and academic spheres.
Though he started speaking about a half-an-hour later than scheduled, he wasted no time in attacking the policies of his successor, President Donald Trump, though he did not mention him by name during his speech.
Earlier in the day, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered a major speech in the House of Commons that was severely critical of Trump — without once referring to the president, but only to his policies.
Obama continued that theme. As he did in his first campaign for the presidency, he talked about change and suggested it is bringing out the dark forces of “isolationism, nationalism [and] rolling back the rights of others.” He suggested people can either adapt to change or “we can retreat and suggest we have no obligations beyond our borders, our tribe and say ‘what’s good for me is all that matters.'”
The former president frequently hinted that the progress that he believes his administration achieved was endangered by uncertainty. “In times of disruption we may go backwards and not forward,” Obama said.
Obama turned to the Paris climate accord, and, as in anticipation, the audience applauded the its very mention After calling climate change “the great challenge of our time,” Obama heralded the Paris accord as a one his administration’s greatest achievements that will stand “despite the temporary absence of American leadership.”
In another swipe at the current U.S. administration, Obama suggested that the post-WWII world was shaped by “institutions we created to keep the peace the United Nations and NATO” and that the U.S. “looks inward” at its peril.
“Let us lead with our hopes and not our fears,” he said.
It was Obama’s first visit to Montreal, though he had visited Canada twice as president.
After speaking for about 30 minutes, Obama took questions from the audience.