Diversity isn’t a weakness, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the New York University graduation ceremony Wednesday.
After receiving an honorary doctorate in law and praised for signing the Paris Climate Agreement, Trudeau took the podium to address the crowd of 17,000 graduating students, parents and faculty sitting in a rainy Yankee Stadium.
The prime minister urged the crowd to become leaders and accept people beyond their “tribe,” or those with different views, which he said is necessary in a world that is polarized.
“The leadership we need most today and in the years to come is leadership that brings people together,” he said.
A good leader “brings diversity to a common cause,” Trudeau said. “This is the antithesis of polarization, the aggressive nationalism, the identity politics that have grown so common of late.”
He was also quick to say that Canada has a history of being less than accepting.
“If you want to bring people around to your way of thinking, you need to first show them you’re open to theirs,” Trudeau told the graduating students in the landmark baseball stadium, which he called “one of the best places in one of the best cities.”
The key, he said, is listening.
“Show respect for their point of view, and you have a better chance of actually having them listen to you,” he said.
Trudeau is in the U.S. for three days, where he will meet with business leaders from corporations such as PepsiCo, WeWork, Etsy, Wayfair, to talk about the benefits of investing in Canada.
The annual trip, known as Solve and hosted by MIT, comes at the same time as Congress’ unofficial deadline for NAFTA renegotiations.
His trip will wrap up on Friday, where he plans to give a speech at the Boston area university about the difficulties of creating a start-up.