Justin Trudeau delivered a ringing endorsement of the EU during an address to the bloc's Parliament on Thursday (16 February), saying his country recognises that "an effective European voice on the global stage isn't just preferable, it's essential."
As he addressed MEPs in Strasbourg, France, the Canadian Prime Minister said: "The European Union is a truly remarkable achievement, and an unprecedented model for peaceful cooperation."
He added: "You are a vital player in addressing the challenges that we collectively face as an international community. Indeed, the whole world benefits from a strong EU."
Trudeau's speech came a day after MEPs gave a landmark free trade deal – known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) – between the EU and Canada the green light.
Trudeau hailed the pact as a potential model for all future trade deals and said it would lead to more jobs and boost the middle class both in Canada and in the EU, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The deal could take provisional effect from April.
"It's a complete action plan to ensure economic and responsible cooperation between countries," the leader of the Liberal Party said.
"With Ceta, together we have built something. Something important. Especially at this moment, on your continent and mine". He added: "If we are successful, Ceta will become the blueprint for all ambitious, future trade deals. If we are not, this could very well be one of the last."
Trudeau's speech is the first time that a Canadian prime minister has addressed the European Parliament. It comes just three days after his meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington DC. The North American leaders differ hugely in their approach to a range of issues, including refugees, the environment, Brexit and other critical issues.
As the referendum campaign reached its peak last year, Trudeau said Britain's clout is "obviously amplified by its strength as part of the EU". Meanwhile, Trump – who was the Republican presidential nominee at the time – advocated the UK's departure from the EU, calling himself "MR. BREXIT".