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Trudeau addresses Mexico's Senate, calls for renewed effort on gender equality

Last Updated Oct 13, 2017 at 12:56 pm EST

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City on Oct. 12, 2017. TWITTER/@justintrudeau

Progressive labour standards and greater action to advance women’s rights are key to ensuring society’s support for a modernized NAFTA deal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

In a speech to Mexico’s Senate, he urged lawmakers to get behind both as a way to fight current global trends.

“Isolationism is taking hold in too many corners of the world, but our people must not succumb to fear. We, as leaders, must not succumb to fear,” Trudeau said as he neared the end of his first official visit to the country.

“Our challenge lies in ensuring that everyone benefits from economic growth. And we do that by pursuing an ambitious, progressive vision of what the future can — and should — look like.”

Trudeau said he’s appreciative of Mexico’s support for the idea of placing a gender chapter into a renegotiated NAFTA, but at the same time he met civil society leaders during his trip and heard stories about unacceptable treatment of women and girls.

“Violence against women and girls is prevalent in all facets of life, from the studios of Hollywood to the digital public squares, our halls of Parliament,” he said.

“As a gender-balanced Senate, I challenge you to use your position and power to strongly push for the rights of women and girls in Mexico and around the world.”

He received a standing ovation for his remarks and cheers not just from the senators but from onlookers in the chamber.

Trudeau’s visit to Mexico City has included meetings with the Mexican president in which the two leaders vowed to remain at the bargaining table for NAFTA, despite hard line proposals from the U.S.

On Friday, Trudeau repeated the message.

“A strong North America can only come from a strong Mexico, a strong Canada, and a strong United States,” he said.

“We are partners — all of us. And even in the face of unpredictability and change, we must remember that.”