During the 2020 APEC CEO Dialogues Malaysia 2020, which were streamed live on 19-20 November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada had a conversation with Haslinda Amin of Bloomberg on “The Future of Global Leadership.”

Below are 21 excerpts from this conversation wherein Prime Minster Trudeau makes the case for the importance of climate change, talks about the challenges and opportunities presented by COVID-19, and answers the question: “Do we continue to open up or do we hunker down?”

On COVID-19: “The challenges and opportunities of the pandemic”

  1. “This pandemic is truly a global challenge. And not just because every country in every corner of the world has been affected: because there is no part of society, no industry, no aspect of daily life that has not changed.”
  2. “This is a health crisis and an economic crisis. It is a crisis of inequality and a crisis of trade.”
  3. “These are not small challenges. And this is not the moment for half measures. Around the world, there is a global growing consensus that we must think boldly. This is our chance to build back societies that are fairer and economics that are more resilient.”
  4. “As we are called to meet the challenges and the opportunities of this pandemic, we have a chance to build something new. So, let's build it together.”
  5. “In Canada, during the first wave of the pandemic, our government brought in the largest economic measures of our lifetime, measures that helped millions of people directly. For families, it meant the difference between being able to pay rent or having to move out, for businesses it meant keeping the lights on instead of going under.”
  6. "In the beginning, people thought, 'Oh my gosh, what I need to do to protect the health of my citizens is in direct opposition with what we need to protect the economy’. But what we're actually seeing through this pandemic is that, like so many things, they actually go together.
  7. “The best way to protect the economy is actually to manage the health crisis in the best possible way. That's the way we get to see things bounce back, and similarly, that question around globalization, of ‘do we continue to open up or do we hunker down and strengthen our own internal processes?’ The answer is, we have to do a little bit of both.”
  8. "Every era thinks that its challenges are the greatest and the worst of any generation of leaders. But every time, we just look for different ways to step up, different ways to create not just opportunities for Canadians—to be narrow on my interest—but to also say, some of the best opportunities for Canadians is when we have good functioning international trade systems, good functioning, multilateral cooperation on fighting climate change, good movements towards equality.”

  9. On trade and opening up: “Working together just makes sense”

  10. “Instead of turning away from trade and globalization, we simply said, ‘Oh, it means we have to do more’. We have to diversify our supply chains. We need to deepen our cooperation with different parts of the world.”
  11. “That ability to actually look for the opportunities, the advantages and challenges that are being renewed around the world is one of, yes, leadership, but also of vision.”
  12. “... we can't just sit back, as countries, and expect multilateral institutions that have worked very well for the past decades to continue unsupported or unengaged with. What we've seen with some realignments and challenges to multilateralism is an opportunity and a need for countries to actually step up in a more active way, whether it's moving forward on the COVAX Facility, which ensures that even as Canada secures record amounts of vaccines for ourselves, we're also ensuring that they're going to be available for the world's most vulnerable people … .”
  13. “We know the world is changing - the center of gravity for the global economy - and that places of opportunity are definitely shifting towards the Asia-Pacific and towards Asia more specifically. And that's where it is so interesting to me, to be deepening and continuing to deepen our ties and our conversations with partners across Asia, as we look for new iterations of multilateral structures and cooperation on big issues: from climate change to gender equality, to inclusive growth to the kinds of things that actually really make a difference as people are looking at a transforming world.”
  14. “We recognize the importance of trade. We're a trading nation. Our presence on the Atlantic and the Pacific, our engagement with the world on natural resources and on services and on diversity of our citizens has always been a tremendous advantage for us.”
  15. “Already Canada has negotiated trade deals with partners around the globe, from the new NAFTA to CETA with Europe, and we're continuing to look to new opportunities to expand trade and investment, particularly in the Asia-Pacific. As a country, proud of its Pacific coast and a founding member of APEC, we've long worked with Asia-Pacific partners to promote good progressive trade and defend a rules-based system.”
  16. “We want to ensure that Canadians and Canadian businesses have access to these dynamic markets with huge potential for building shared prosperity. After all, working together just makes good sense.”
  17. “By expanding our opportunities in these markets, we can create even more good middle-class jobs and more support for entrepreneurs who drive economic growth.”
  18. “There are many, many countries and leaders very interested in exactly those things that we're going to continue to work with, despite forces that sometimes are tugging in different directions.”
  19. “I think that message, that it is time for smaller countries to realize that we all do have a weight and an ability to shape global leadership in meaningful ways for our citizens and our neighbors, that—I'm looking forward to the challenges of this 21st Century.”

  20. On climate change action: “This is where the world is going.”

  21. “We're focused on supporting Canadians through the coming months, while setting people up for success in the coming years. One of the best ways to do that is with real, meaningful action on climate change. I don't have to tell you that global consumers and investors are demanding and rewarding climate action. This is where the world is going. That's where Canada is going too.”
  22. “This is an ambitious goal, and our kids, our economy, and our future can afford nothing less. Net zero is as much about avoiding the worst impacts of climate change as it is about creating good jobs and a competitive economy for years to come. To reach this goal, we will work with every part of society, including the private sector.”
  23. “Already, many global businesses like yours are leading the way on net-zero targets. So, let's lead together. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we cannot look inward. To keep people safe, to rebuild a strong, resilient economy, we must reach out.”