By: Michael Piccoli
Montreal restaurateur Toby Lyle lost a lot of customers Tuesday evening, but he is not bothered that much.
He got to meet, shake hands and get a photo with Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they walked out of a competitor’s diner across the street.
“When he (Obama) first got to the restaurant, there was around six people and within 20 minutes, the word got out and around 2,000 people were on the street looking in to the restaurant, watching them eat dinner,” said Lyle, owner of the Burgundy Lion on Notre Dame Ouest, across the street from the Liverpool House where Obama and Trudeau rekindled their bromance after the president spoke to about 6,000 people at the Palais de Congrès.
Obama met with Trudeau after the event at the Liverpool House to discuss issues including young leaders taking action in their communities.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 7, 2017
Lyle said once word had gotten out the two were dining together, nobody could enter his restaurant because of all the chaos.
“It was meant to be kept quiet, but at a certain point, there was a ridiculous amount of security,” he said.
Obama launched his speech with a heartfelt thank you to Canada and a “bon anniversaire” to Montreal, which is celebrating 375 years, and expressed his appreciation of the alliance between Canadians and Americans.
“Our history together, our efforts together, speak to a common set of values,” he said.
Obama called the continuing recent attacks by terrorists in Europe is an onslaught against democracy.
“Like the other attacks that we have seen in Manchester, in Paris, in Brussels, in Berlin, this was not an attack on a military target,” he said. “It was an attack on ordinary people gathering in a public space. And as such, it was an attack on free and open societies and on the spirit of democracy itself.”
Obama said defending democracy requires constant vigilance and expressed a call to action.
“The bottom line is: democracy is hard and progress does not always move in a straight line,” he said. “Its gains are often fragile if we as citizens are not tilling the soil and maintaining that democracy.”
Obama did not speak about President Donald Trump directly, but he criticized the decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement during the question-and-answer session and said he believes America’s absence will be short-lived.
“In Paris, we came together around the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change,” he said. “An agreement that even with the temporary absence of American leadership will still give our children a fighting chance.”
The former president also touched on the rejection of mainstream media that’s becoming more common.
“We are in an environment where we are only accepting information based on what our opinions are rather than basing our opinions on the facts we receive, and reason and logic,” he said.
Obama predicted the U.S. will see a female president in the future.
“I did conclude at a certain point that if you just put women in charge of every country for just about two years, the world would make a huge leap forward and just be better off generally,” he said. “And that’s why I do think you guys are a little better.”