Introductory Remarks at Foreign Policy’s Diplomat of the Year Award

June 13, 2018

As prepared for delivery

Good evening. I would like to thank Jonathan Tepperman for the kind introduction, and thank you to Foreign Policy for inviting me to this wonderful event, at a time when diplomacy is more important than ever.

It is a great honor to join you all this evening to celebrate an outstanding leader and public servant, the recipient of this year’s Diplomat of the Year award: Chrystia Freeland.

In many ways, Chrystia’s approach to international relations is what we imagine diplomacy can be at its best.

It is about weaving together multiple threads—from politics, to culture, to economics—to make global challenges more manageable. It is also about fostering global prosperity by building on sound domestic policies.

As Chrystia once put it: “ The world abroad and the world at home are not two solitudes. They are connected .” [1]

Indeed, the world can take inspiration from Canada’s leadership on key issues such as economic inequality, climate change, and women’s economic empowerment.

But if there is one defining issue in this moment, it is the future of the rules-based international system, especially when it comes to trade.

We know that Chrystia’s work—her incredible energy and resolve—were instrumental in achieving a historic trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.

And we know that so much more is to be done—not just in resolving the current trade disagreements but in creating a better global trade system.

For trade to be better, it needs to be more inclusive. It also needs to be more internationally cooperative to ensure a level playing field for all countries. And we can see that the future of trade is digital, and more services-based. Trade agreements will need to reflect these factors—and that will require diplomacy.

Of course, Chrystia has been a true champion of international cooperation, drawing strength from an approach that has underpinned Canada’s prosperity and standing in the world.

In addition to being a member of the G7, Canada was instrumental in creating the IMF, the World Bank, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the G20.

In other words, Chrystia has multilateralism in her DNA .

But that is not the only thing that gives her strength. Hers is a career that is built on intellectual honesty and relentless curiosity.

Chrystia was able to nurture these qualities as a Harvard student and Rhodes scholar; and she then put them to work as a member of the fourth estate.

Her work at the Financial Times, the Globe and Mail, and Thomson Reuters left her with a deep understanding of international relations and a global network of contacts and friends. All the while she was able to count on her wonderful family—her biggest source of strength.

After a distinguished career in journalism, Chrystia said ‘yes’ to Justin Trudeau, who persuaded her to come back to Canada and run for office. That was five years ago.

Chrystia has since proven herself as a passionate and highly effective public servant —from her time as a Member of Parliament, to her work as Minister of International Trade, to her current post as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The great thing about my friend Chrystia is that she has not lost her journalistic ethos along the way. She is constantly listening and learning, trying to get to the truth, and trying to get it right.

So, we are fortunate to have Chrystia in our corner as we encourage all countries to work together in a spirit of openness and honesty.

Her wisdom, her patience, and her grace under pressure make the impossible suddenly become possible. And, after all, that truly is the art of diplomacy.

So Chrystia—thank you for making a difference in our world through your incredible commitment and energy.

You embody the values that underpin this award. You inspire the next generation of leaders—in Canada and across the globe.

[1] Chrystia Freeland’s speech in the House of Commons, June 6, 2017.

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