Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to a crowd of thousands at the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal on Tuesday evening. The former U.S. Secretary of State and Senator from New York focused primarily on gender and the necessity of more representation of women in business and politics.
“There are so many opportunities in our own two countries to continue to push the expansion of the rights and opportunities for women and girls, but particularly for Americans and Canadians to do more to open the doors of progress, to create equality and justice everywhere,” said Clinton.
Clinton went on to describe her transition toward viewing gender issues in economic terms. “I’ve done this work for a very long time and for most of that time, I made what was the argument of morality, the argument of justice, that every person should be respected for the gifts that he or she has, that there shouldn’t be artificial barriers. But then, in the last seven or so years, the economic arguments have become so compelling,” she said.
“We see in every country in the world what a difference it would make to this chamber of commerce, to this country’s GDP, to that in my own country, if women and girls were able to have full access and participate in the economy to the fullest of their abilities.”
Erin Cully, a recent graduate from McGill who attended the event, noted, “The economic argument for gender is a little utilitarian, which is unfortunate.”
Rebeca Cipollitti, a U1 Arts and Science student, shared the sentiment, telling The Daily, “I feel it seems like how women can make it to the top is through business, and I don’t think that is the only issue we should be attacking. I mean, there’s other things that women can help […] like the environment for example – she barely touched on that and I feel like that’s a really important issue.”
Following her speech, Clinton sat down for a question-and-answer session with the President and CEO of GazMetro, Sophie Brochu. Brochu’s questions ranged from addressing Clinton’s stance on maternity leave, to her opinions on the relationship between Canada and the U.S., to her experiences as Secretary of State.
One of Brochu’s last, and more provocative, questions centred around the idea of entering a “new Cold War.” Clinton’s response focused on the need for European countries to gain energy independence in order to be immune to Russian aggression. “The Russians can only intimidate you if you are dependent upon them,” Clinton said.
“What Putin did is illegal. It is against international law. It is not because we gave the poor little Baltic states NATO protection. And people need to say that, and they need to be very clear, that this is a clash of values and it’s an effort by Putin to re-write the boundaries of post-World War II Europe,” Clinton asserted.
Zachary Rosentzveig, a U3 Arts student who also attended the event, said, “I think it’s ironic that she criticizes Putin for beginning illegal wars when she was in Senate when the Senate voted for illegal wars.”
The event concluded with Brochu asking Clinton whether she would run for president in 2016, to which Clinton responded that she has not yet made up her mind.