Barack Obama just showed up in Halifax and gushed about Canada
Former U.S. president Barack Obama stopped in Halifax last night to speak to a crowd of over 9,000 people, and they hung on his every word.
On top of the approximately 6,000 regular attendees, about 3,000 young leaders and students had been given tickets to attend the event and hear Obama's words of wisdom, according to the Toronto Star.
The former president spoke about many issues facing the world today, and he also included some good old Canadian flattery.
"I have to confess, and I speak for Michelle as well, we’re just suckers for Canadians," he said to the adoring crowd. "We like it here."
Obama complimented Canada on our level of civility and tolerance, among other things.
"I think that there’s a spirit in Canada that is unique, and I think worth feeling very great about," he said.
"I think the people here are still modelling the kind of civility and tolerance and thoughtfulness that is required for the maintenance of a democracy and I hope that continues."
A real gift for this region to have Barack Obama, one of the greatest leaders our world will ever know, in Halifax yesterday — Thanks for sharing your wisdom and life experiences with us Barry! @BarackObama pic.twitter.com/7EqojCjNqi— Alfred Burgesson (@AlfredHFX) November 14, 2019
He also included some practical advice for the young leaders in the audience, advising them to focus more on action than anything else.
I loved how he said, “Worry less about what you want to be and more about what you want to do.”— Paula Langille (@paulalangille) November 14, 2019
Obama cautioned against the polarization currently taking over many of the world's democracies, and he said it's important to focus on what we have in common rather than what separates us.
And of course, the former President spoke about climate change, calling it the number-one issue of today.
"At this point if you are still in denial about the science around this, you’ve got to read a little bit. You’ve got to get out there a little bit," he said.
He said the issue is dire and urgent, and that there's no longer any time to waste discussing whether or not it's real.
Obama also expressed admiration for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying they have a similar approach to politics.
"Former U.S. president Barack Obama made a point of highlighting his admiration for Justin Trudeau at an event in Halifax, saying the prime minister's approach to politics is close to his own.#cdnpoli https://t.co/APv3lrM3Ue— Elke Babiuk (@ElkeBabiuk) November 14, 2019
When asked by interviewer Dianne Kelderman, president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, what his most difficult day in office was, Obama somberly cited the Sandy Hook shooting as the worst of them all.
He talked about gun violence, and said his inability to move the needle on this issue while in office is a "source of anguish" to him.
Obama avoided all mention of Donald Trump in Halifax last night, and instead he focused on encouraging the world's future leaders to be idealistic and bold.
Inspiring session with Obama encouraging youth to:— Dr. Roxanne MacKnight (@MacKnightRox) November 14, 2019
1. Follow your passions, work hard and don't be afraid to fail
2. Listen to others. Activism is not about judging others it is about understanding other points of view to help create change @BarackObama #halifax pic.twitter.com/gS5MFqlHdR
And as he did once before, Obama warned against cancel culture.
He told young people not to focus so much on being right and judging others, but instead to concentrate on effecting change by listening to perspectives that are different from your own.
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