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President Obama Meets With Canadian, Mexican Leaders. Aired 4- 4:30p ET

Aired June 29, 2016 - 16:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A belief in free speech, and freedom of assembly, and democracy, and pluralism, and tolerance, and rule of law.

And we have observed those ideals imperfectly at times. But, in each successive generation, we have got a little better at it. We have come closer to our ideals.

And the notion that somehow we would stop now on what has been a tradition of attracting talent and strivers and dreamers from all around the world, that would rob us of the thing that is most special about America. And I don't think it will happen.

Now, people are genuinely concerned about immigration that is not orderly, people pouring across borders without, you know, having gone through some sort of process. It adds to people's sense that things are out of control.

And that's why we have invested in securing our borders and we have made unprecedented investments. It's part of the reason why illegal immigration to the United States it actually at its lowest level since the 1970s.

It's why we so value the cooperation that we have obtained from the Mexican government in making sure that our borders work to facilitate legal trade and legal immigration and commerce, but discourages, you know, illegal immigration.

It's why I'm pushing very hard and will continue to push until I leave this office and expect the next president to push for a comprehensive immigration reform plan that can fix those aspects of the system that are broken, so that we remain a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

And that's ultimately, I think, where people in the United States will land. We have had times throughout our history where anti-immigration sentiment is exploited by demagogues. It was directed at the Irish. It was directed at Poles and Italians.

And you can go back and read what was said about those groups. And it's identical to what they're now saying about Mexicans or Guatemalans or Salvadorans or Muslims or Asians. Same stuff. They're different. They're not going to fit. They won't assimilate. They bring crime. Same arguments.

You go back to the 1800s, the language is identical. But guess what? They kept coming. And they kept coming because America offered possibility for their children and their grandchildren. And even if they were initially discriminated against, they understood that our system will over time allow them to become part of this one American family.

And so we should take some of this rhetoric seriously and answer it boldly and clearly, but you shouldn't think that that is representative of how the American people think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now our third question from the United States, reporter Roberta Rampton from Reuters.

OBAMA: I should point out that -- I should point out that Roberta is also secretly from Canada.


QUESTION: No so secretly.

OBAMA: So, Canadians are now getting an extra question.


QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Given how the Brexit vote shook the stability of the global economy, do you feel that you need to do more to calm the markets quickly and perhaps encourage a quick exit, rather than something that's long and drawn-out? Do you still feel that the U.K. should be at the back of the queue for a trade deal with the United States?

And are you going to make a full-throated pitch for the TPP, for your prescription, when you're out on the campaign trail this summer stumping for Secretary Clinton?

And, Prime Minister Trudeau, both -- I mean, you seem to be quite careful when you talk about Mr. Trump. Renegotiating NAFTA or tearing it up would be such a disaster for Canada. Why not come out and say that forcefully?


And, President Pena Nieto, in March, you compared Mr. Trump to Hitler and Mussolini. I'm wondering if you still stand by that. And how worried are you that, this time next year, there will be a wall up on your border?



OBAMA: Excellent questions, Roberta.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: She doesn't sound Canadian. That was pretty mean.


OBAMA: Canadians are a little more subtle.


OBAMA: I'm actually going to help out my friends a little bit on your last question, even though it wasn't directed at me, and just say, when I visit other countries, it's not my job to comment on candidates in the middle of a race, just because they may end up winning.

And the relationship between governments tend to transcend whoever is in power at any given time. So, it's a tough question. It's -- I'm not saying they shouldn't answer it. I'm just -- I'm helping them out a little bit.


OBAMA: Because there's no doubt that, when I visit countries, there are times where I have got preferences. But I rarely express them.

With respect to Brexit, first of all, I think you have seen the markets settle down a little bit over the last couple of days. I didn't follow the markets today. But we're monitoring very carefully whether there's any systemic strains on the system. And so far, what you have seen is reactions of the market, stock prices, currencies.

But I think the preparations that were done by central banks and finance ministers, our treasury secretary, you know, indicate the degree to which the global economy in the short run will hold steady.

I think there are some genuine longer-term concerns about global growth if, in fact, Brexit goes through, and that freezes the possibilities of investment in Great Britain or in Europe as a whole. At a time when global growth rates were weak already, you know, this doesn't help.

And so when we attend the G20 summit in China later this year, one of the major topics, which is something that I have continually advocated for during the seven-and-a-half years that I have been president, is we all have to look at what we can do to boost global demand, whether it's the United States adopting a more robust budget for infrastructure improvements and fixing water systems in Flint, Michigan, or repairing airports that are not as efficient as they should be, or rebuilding our power grid, so that it can take advantage of clean energy, whether it's Germany, a country with a surplus, doing more in terms of spending, or Europe as a whole lifting some of the austerity constraints that have been placed on them, whether it's China shifting to a more consumer-based, domestic-based growth strategy, as opposed to trying to export its way out of problems.

Yes, there are going to be a whole hot of measures that all of us can take to fortify the global economy. And that should be a top priority of ours. With respect to the actual Brexit negotiations, my main message to

David Cameron, Angela Merkel and others is, everybody should catch their breath, come up with a plan and a process that is orderly, that's transparent, that people understand, and then proceed, understanding that both sides have a stake in getting this right.

And I think that that will be a difficult, challenging process, but it does not need to be a panicky process. I think it can be a steady, sensible process. Obviously, leadership issues in Great Britain will need to be resolved for it to move as crisply and as effectively as it needs to, but that I think that's recognized, and that should happen fairly quickly.

And I know that, speaking with Chancellor Merkel, that, you know, her interest is not in retribution. Her interest is in making sure that the process works.


And I have a lot of confidence in people being able to do that, and we will help in any way that we can to facilitate that.

And then the last part of your question is with respect to the U.K. and any trade agreement with the United States. Frankly, we will be the least of their problems right now, because their first order of business is going to be to address the market where they sell half their goods, which is Europe.

And these things are not easily negotiated, particularly because we have been spending our time trying to negotiate with the European Union. And so to suddenly go off on another track will be challenging.

But I think their first and primary concern is going to be to try to figure out how they interact with the European Union and the European market if, in fact, and when, in fact, they leave.

I have emphasized throughout, though, that the special relationship that we have with Great Britain does not change, that the ties of affection and family and language and institutions and culture and the business relationships that exist, those are so deep and so long- lasting, the cooperation we have on security issues and on global challenges, those are so fundamental that, you know, our relationship with the U.K. fundamentally doesn't change.

We are concerned that their absence from the European Union and the potential disruptions within Europe make it harder for us to solve some of the other challenges that have to be solved.

TRUDEAU: One of the things that's easy to forget amid the inflated rhetoric of an election campaign is that the relationship between our three countries goes far deeper than any individual leaders.

And if the three of us get along, it's not just because we're aligned in many different values and priorities. It is very much because we serve citizens who are they themselves tremendously aligned in terms of priorities, in terms of hopes and dreams, in terms of desire for success and ways to reach it.

So, when you look at the level of integration of our supply chains, our markets, of the flow back and forth across borders of goods and people, and the tremendous benefits that have come from proximity and strong relationships to individual citizens across this continent, it's -- it's essential that we understand that, regardless of electoral rhetoric, Canada, the United States and Mexico will continue to have tremendously close relationships, economically, socially, culturally, familially, historically, and towards the future.

So, as I have said many times, and I will say again, I look forward to working with whomever the American people choose to elect as their president in November. I know that we will always be able to find shared priorities and challenges that we want to work together to overcome, and I know that our commitment to doing what's right and what's best for our citizens will lead us to much more alignment than differentiation.

ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Roberta, I will go straight to the point and describe the stand of my administration and my own very personal point of view.

I have said it, and I will say again, my government will respect fully the domestic electoral process in the United States. I don't think I have said anything different from what I'm stating once again here.

What I have said is that, today, and I -- I did not make reference to a specific place. My words reinforce what I believe. I believe that, in this global scenario -- and I will use President Obama's words. And -- and, as he said, he gave us a hand to address this question.

[16:15:16] Well, we are facing a global reality. We have a populist world, an interconnected word with it's own challenges. What I have said is that in the world we're living in different places, we have political leaders, political stakeholders that use demagoguery and have the populistic slogans that want to eliminate and destroy what has been built, what has taken decades to build, to go back to problems of the past, and yes, it is true.

All the benefits have not reached society as a whole, but it's true, but those leaderships, those political actors by using populism and demagoguery, they choose the easiest way to solve the challenges of today's world. And things are not that simplistic. It's not as easy as that to lead a country, to take on a responsibility. To rule the country, it goes beyond giving the easiest answer. It is complex and it is difficult to lead a country.

And I just said it, what we have reached so far, the level of development, the level of well-being that we have in the world, without a doubt makes contrast with what the situation that will leave 30 years back, never before a global society, or the societies of our three countries have lived, the level of development and world being that we enjoy today. Never before had our countries have has high of a life expectancy as we have today. Never before have we had the opportunity to the knowledge of the world as fast and as easy as we do today. Never before were, in such a level of connection between society and the possibility of having access to any product from any corner of the world as we do today, and that was built throughout the years using a model based on openness, free trade, trade agreements.

And the biggest challenge today is to make sure those benefits reach out to every single citizen. But the solution by some is not by destroying what we have been built. It is not taking a different route to choose the route toward isolationism and destruction. What we need to do is to keep up the pace towards development.

And when I said that, I mentioned that most of what some people say, it is very similar that in the past and President Obama already said it years back, but in the past, some leaders address their societies in those terms. Hitler and Mussolini did that, and the outcome, it is clear to everyone. It resulted in devastation, and turned out to be a tragedy for mankind, and we saw it last century.

That was my message when I made reference to this event. My message was about to value what we have and also to be aware the road that we need to walk still, but that's the benefit that we are looking forward to take the benefits to our societies.

MODERATOR: Last next question. The question will be from (INAUDIBLE).

REPORTER (through translator): Mr. Trudeau, with the goals that you have said are ambitious for clean energy, does this mean the U.S. will import more hydro electricity?

Mr. Obama, with this agreement to produce more clean energy, does it mean that the United States will have to import more hydro electricity from Canada?

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Certainly, the agreement that we have included today values our shift to cleaner, renewable energy. Canada has a tremendous amount of energy that comes from clean sources right now, and we are always looking to create more.

[16:20:02] How we work together as not just as two countries but as three countries on energy solutions that give opportunities to our citizens while protecting generation from the impacts of climate change is something that we all entirely agreed on. One of the things that we have learned through the Paris agreement and to years of following different paths towards solution is there is no one single solution to our energy challenges or to the challenges posed by climate change. That we need to be creative, we need to be innovative and we need to work together.

And that's why the inclusion of this ambitious continental energy strategy is so important in how we're going to do not just our share to combat the global challenges of climate change, but to demonstrate leadership and show that clean energy and clean growth are exactly the solution and the opportunity that we face because of climate change.

(through translator): It is true that the agreement that we came to today is very important. It allows us to fight climate change, but it is also very important when it comes to investing in green energy. Clean growth in our country. I know that we will have to pursue multiple different solutions when it comes to clean energy, but cooperation and the collaboration that we highlighted today among our three countries will give rise to innovative solutions that are positive in the area of green energy.

I can't wait to work with the United States and with Mexico in order that together, we are able to face climate change. It's not just a matter of doing our fair share, it's a matter of showing leadership in the world. When it comes to climate change and clean energy, we have to do more than our share. We have to show that the future of the environment and the economy involves taking responsible decisions for the environment and green energy. Thank you.

PENA NIETO (through translator): Even though this question was addressed to the U.S. and Canada, I would like to say that Mexico, in this trilateral relationship, and as it has been mentioned here, we are also committed to clean energy. Mexico has revamped its legal frame work so that by 2024, at least 35 percent of the generation of energy is clean. This is an agreement they made in this trilateral meeting to reduce other pollutants like methane.

What I would like to say is that our three countries share the same agenda in environmental issues. We have agreed to protect our world and to find solutions that we're already working on.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Justin, I think, got it right, which is that we set a goal. And we are coordinating and synchronizing best practices, and there's going to be an energy mix in each of our countries that's going to be different. And some of it will be determined by the natural resources we have. It's going to be determined by how well we can integrate the grid and transmission of power.

So, there may be some wonderful hydroelectric power that we'd like to get to the United States. The question is, are there enough transmission facilities for us to buy at a competitive price? Just as, you know, as we develop wind energy, we have to build an infrastructure to get wind produced in South Dakota down to Chicago. And each of us I think are going to have national plans, but the point is by setting these goals, creating the coordinating mechanisms, we're in a position to take advantage of the confluence of interests and economies and opportunities.

[16:25:07] And I view this clean energy sector as an enormous opportunity. But oil is cheap right now, but it's not going to be cheap. I've said this before, those of you buying gas guzzlers, I'm telling you, because it is a finite resource and it becomes more and more expensive to extract, and people are taking climate change more and more seriously. So, we're in a transition phase, but in the meantime, technology is moving.

And solar and wind and hydro and bio mass and entire technologies we haven't even thought of yet. You know, there is some a 15-year-old kid somewhere who's figuring it out. I don't know whether he's in Mexico, or Canada, or the United States, or China, or, you know, Saudi Arabia, but someone out there is going to figure this out. And I want that opportunity to accrue to our workers, our people, our

communities and whoever wins this race is going to -- everybody else is going to follow, and I believe that we have the brain power and the architecture to lead. And we have such a huge market between our three countries that we can test out a lot of these opportunities and figure out what will work best.

If you allow me, I want to say one last thing though because it's been a running thread in a bunch of questions, and that's this whole issue of populism. Maybe someone can pull up in a dictionary quickly the phrase populism, but I'm not prepared to concede the notion that some of the rhetoric that has been popping up is populist.

You know, when I ran in 2008, and I reason that I ran again, and the reason even after I leave this office, I will continue to work in some capacity in public service is because I care about people, and I want to make sure every kid in America has the same opportunities that I have. And I care about poor people who are working really hard and don't have to chance to advance, and I care about workers being able to have a collective voice in the workplace and get their fair share of the pie.

And I want to make sure that kids are getting a decent education, and a working mom has child care that she can trust. And I think we should have a tax system that's fair and the folks like me who have been benefitted from the incredible opportunities in my society should pay a little bit more to make sure that somebody else as kids who aren't as lucky had those same opportunities. And I think there should be curbs on the excesses of our financial sector, so that we don't repeat the debacles of 2007 and 2008. And I think there should be transparency in how our systems work so that we don't have people dodging taxes by setting up offshore accounts in other places and avoiding the responsibilities that their fellow citizens who don't have fancy lawyers and accountants, that they can't benefit from those same tricks.

Now, I suppose that makes me a populist. Somebody else who has never shown any regard for workers has never fought on behalf of social justice issues, or making sure that poor kids have a decent shot at life, or have health care, in fact, have worked against economic opportunity for workers and ordinary people. They don't suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes. That is not the measure of populism. That is nativism, or xenophobia, or worse, or just cynicism.