Politics

Trudeau won't deliver Canada's address to UN General Assembly this year

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not deliver Canada's address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York this year, sources tell CBC News.

Chrystia Freeland is expected to deliver Canada's 2018 speech

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the United Nations General Assembly in 2016. Trudeau will not address the General Assembly this year. (Getty Images)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not deliver Canada's address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York this year, sources tell CBC News.

Instead, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will speak on Canada's behalf before the annual gathering of world leaders on Sept. 29.

Trudeau will take part in other high-level events at the UN, said Canadian officials who spoke to CBC News on background Monday.

Trudeau will actually address the General Assembly when he speaks at the Mandela Peace Summit — described as a "high-profile plenary" on global peace named in honour of the centenary of the birth of former South African president Nelson Mandela — the day before the start of General Assembly debate. The speech will be limited to a three-minute address.

The aim of the summit is to adopt a '"short and concise" political declaration negotiated by member states re-affirming a commitment to "a just, peaceful, prosperous, democratic, fair, equitable and inclusive world."

The PM also will be among the keynote speakers at an event being hosted by Secretary General Antonio Guterres Sept. 24 titled 'Financing Sustainable Development.' The high-level meeting aims to mobilize funding for the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which include climate action, poverty eradication and quality education.

According to sources, development and education also will be among the major themes the Canadian delegation will be pushing at various panels and side events during leaders' week.

Trudeau will be in New York from Sept. 24 to 26.

Trudeau has been a fixture at General Assembly meetings in recent years. In 2017 he used the forum to tell world leaders that Canada's human rights record is far from perfect, particularly with respect to its relationship with Indigenous peoples. He called Canada a "work in progress," vowing to improve the lives of Indigenous Canadians.

In 2016, Trudeau told the General Assembly that Canada is a committed global actor that is "here to help" solve some of the world's pressing issues, such as climate change.

Each September, leaders from the 193 UN member countries meet in New York to kick off the fall meeting of the assembly — an key organ of the UN in which all countries have equal standing.

Canada has made it clear it is vying for a two-year temporary seat on the UN Security Council beginning in 2021. Ottawa is in a tough fight against Ireland and Norway for the two available spots opening that year in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG).

UN member-states are divided into five geographic groups to ensure regional representation.

The five permanent veto-wielding members on the Security Council are the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia and China, also known as the P5. The remaining 10 seats are distributed by region.

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