NEW YORK— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intends to use his speech to the United Nations General Assembly to tell a painful story about Canada’s past, the struggles of its Indigenous peoples, and the long road ahead in addressing them.
Sources say the prime minister will allude Thursday to the legacy of injustices like residential schools, with its longstanding consequences, and his government’s intentions to address them, through steps that include splitting up the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada more than 20 years after it was recommended in a public commission.
“Tell the story of Canada’s past,” said one official, describing the speech.
“(It will describe) hundreds of years of injustices to Canada’s Indigenous peoples.”
But he said the speech will have a forward-looking point that talks about the future, rather than just re-examine difficult events of the past.
He said the main point of the prime minister’s speech is that Canada won’t hide from the most intractable problems, and will apply that logic to foreign affairs as well as it campaigns for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2021.
“With an acknowledgment that there’s no overnight solution,” said the official.
“But we will live up to our responsibilities and always be open to looking for solutions… not shying away from big complex problems.”
The other major aspect of the speech will be climate change, the source said.
The stark message will be strikingly different from the government boasts about Canada being back on the international stage, and about its policies in its first months in office. But it’s designed to support Canada’s campaign to play a bigger role on that stage, at the Security Council.
Trudeau met with seven different governments on Wednesday and spoke to three other public events in what insiders described as an effort to lay early groundwork for the Security Council campaign when it’s formally launched.