February 17, 2017 / 10:11 PM / 10 months ago

Canada's Trudeau calls for wider social benefit from economy

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that international economic policymakers should place more focus on creating economic growth which benefits a wider range of global society.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to adress the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Economic policy should be more concentrated on helping the middle classes and those striving to join it, he said in a speech in the German port city of Hamburg during a dinner for civic and business leaders.

Trudeau gave an indirect warning that economic policy focused on small parts of society creates inequality leading to anger, which could fuel extremism.

“Whether you’re a business or a government, it’s time to realize that this anger and anxiety we see washing over the world is coming from a very real place,” Trudeau said. “And it’s not going away.”

Increasingly inequality has made people distrust their governments and distrust their employers, he said. Many people around the world are anxious about the future.

“It’s time to get real about the challenges facing the middle class, and those working hard to join it,” he said. “Whether your goal is to build a successful company, or lead a respected and effective government, it’s time to realize that the old approaches don’t work anymore.”

“We have to address the root cause of their worries, and get real about how the changing economy is impacting peoples’ lives,” Trudeau said.

“When companies post record profits on the backs of workers consistently refused full-time work - and the job security that comes with it - people get defeated. And when governments serve special interests instead of the citizens interests who elected them – people lose faith.”

Companies must give workers avenues to update and modernize their skills for a changing world, he said.

“You must be part of the communities where you operate, realizing that these towns and cities support you, and you must, in turn, support them,” he said.

Workplaces, and especially corporate boardrooms, should reflect the full diversity of society, he said.

Trudeau was speaking at the end of a European tour which included a speech at the European parliament after it backed the CETA free trade deal between Canada and the EU and talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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