September 20, 2016 at 8:53 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Trudeau chides politicians, candidates who ‘exploit’ fear

Justin Trudeau, gay news, Washington Blade

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to reporters at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 20, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

UNITED NATIONS — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday criticized politicians and candidates who “exploit” fear.

“Every single day, we need to choose hope over fear and diversity over division,” he said in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly. “Fear has never fed a family nor created a single job. And those who exploit it will never solve the problems that have created such anxiety.”

Trudeau told reporters during a press conference after his speech that his comments were not specifically directed towards Donald Trump. He said Canadians saw “divisive politics . . . up close and personal” ahead of last October’s elections in which Trudeau defeated then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“We had a political campaign that featured Islamophobia and divisive personal attacks pandering to fear and insecurity like we do see elsewhere around the world these days,” said Trudeau.

“What we found in Canada is people are better than divisive politicians think they are,” he added. “And by appealing to people’s better angels, by drawing people together rather than stoking fears and anxieties we are actually able to create a government that is focused on strengthening the middle class to allay those fears and anxieties and demonstrate a positive engagement with the world.”

Trudeau champions LGBT rights, refugees

Trudeau used the backdrop of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which is May 17, to introduce a bill that would add gender identity to Canada’s nondiscrimination and hate crimes laws.

Trudeau announced last week that Canada will contribute an additional $610 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. His government this fall is expected to formally apologize to gay Canadians who suffered discrimination because of their sexual orientation, including those who were convicted of “gross indecency” before the country decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in 1969.

Trudeau this summer marched in Pride parades in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Ahmed “Danny” Ramadan, a gay Syrian man who received refugee status in Canada in 2014, was the grand marshal of the Vancouver Pride parade in which Trudeau and members of his family marched. Canada has allowed 31,000 Syrians to resettle in the country since Trudeau became prime minister.

“Refugees are people with the same hopes and dreams as our own citizens,” said Trudeau in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

Trudeau on Tuesday also attended a refugee summit on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly that President Obama hosted.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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