“Today, there are many forces tugging at the fabric of our societies. Demagogues who play on fears of immigrants and minorities, economic stagnation that hollows out communities and puts the dream of upward mobility out of reach for too many families. Deep frustrations that erode trust in our leaders, our institutions, even our neighbours.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Winnipeg on Wednesday Jan. 21 and the Former Secretary of State and likely Democratic nominee for President showed no hesitation in confronting the big issues of our time.
Speaking without notes or a teleprompter as part of the CIBC Global Perspectives series, Clinton held the RBC Convention centre audience of roughly 2,000 at rapt attention, focusing her remarks on two key themes: prosperity and power.
With an eye towards her domestic political audience - 2016 can never be far from her mind - Clinton took a firm stand on the importance of shared prosperity. Citing a recent report by Oxfam - which stated that the richest one per cent will soon own more than half of the planet’s wealth - Clinton spoke of confronting income inequality in the United States while connecting her point to the broader aspirations of people around the world.
“In the United States that’s what historically we have called the American dream, but based on all the work I’ve done and the 112 countries I’ve visited, it is a universal dream,” Clinton says.
“Overwhelmingly they say, ‘I want a good job, I want my children to get an education, I want my family to be safe and to feel that they have a good future. That’s not so different from what we want in Canada and the United States, we’ve just been extremely fortunate in the way we’ve organized ourselves over centuries now.’”
In that regard, Clinton spoke of the link between empowering women and building a strong society, saying, “It’s also no coincidence that the places where women’s lives aren’t valued or their rights respected tend to be places of conflict and instability.”
In her remarks, Clinton also touches on the balance of power around the world. Speaking on the threat posed by Islamic extremism, Clinton says, “Its adherents may be few in number, but they have the capacity to cause profound damage, most especially to their own communities. With these vicious few, we are confronting an ideology of hate, a worldview based on tearing down and dividing, rather than building up and bringing together.”
Clinton took care to note that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and that the western world must remain open and welcoming to diversity, walking the fine line of securing western societies while remaining true to the principles that underpin those societies.
Throughout her speech, Clinton spoke with authority, giving a clear sense of her principles and deep understanding of how to apply those principles to the real world. Clinton’s experience, her command of the facts, her confidence on stage and even her willingness to inject humour into her remarks with a Vladimir Putin impression - all point to a candidate who is ready not only to seek the office that narrowly eluded her in 2008, but to make history in 2016.