Justin Trudeau Tells World Leaders They Have 2 Options When It Comes To Rising Inequality

"People have been taken advantage of, losing their jobs and their livelihoods."

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent a clear message: corporations must engage in social change and address inequality or they will fail. 

Trudeau called on some of the wealthiest corporate leaders in the world to step out of a business-as-usual approach that hasn't helped tackle inequality. He suggested that hiring more women was crucial to closing the gap between rich and poor, and something everyone there could act on immediately.

"Too many corporations have single-mindedly put the pursuit of profit before the wellbeing of workers," Trudeau said. "All the while, companies avoid taxes and boast record profits with one hand while slashing benefits with the other."

At times, Trudeau's words were explicit than others. He questioned whether the business leaders want "to live in gated enclaves while those around them struggle" and warned of increasing "unrest" amongst the working class. 

"People have been taken advantage of, losing their jobs and their livelihoods," Trudeau said. "Governments and corporations – we haven't done enough to address this. Over the past decades, citizens and workers have been calling for change, but too often, their pleas have been ignored."

Global stock markets have surged this year but it has done little to improve the wages or living conditions of workers globally. 

During his speech, Trudeau also made waves by announcing that Canada and 10 other countries from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreed to a new trade agreement. It's being dubbed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Last year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to withdraw the United States from the TPP trade deal. 

"Trade helps strengthen the middle class, but for it to work we must ensure that the benefits are shared with all our citizens, not just the few," Trudeau said. "The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership is a new step on that path."

Cover photo: Shutterstock / arindambanerjee

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