TORONTO — Two prominent figures in U.S. politics are north of the border for separate speaking engagements in Toronto Tuesday.
Former first lady Michelle Obama will be speaking about education and equality for girls and women around the world at an event hosted by the Economic Club of Canada and Plan International Canada.
Later in the day, former vice-president Joe Biden will be the headline speaker for a conference called The Art of Leadership.
Dozens of ticket holders — most of them young women — filled the atrium of Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre in anticipation of Obama’s appearance Tuesday morning.
“I’m excited to hear her talk about education and women’s equality, (topics) I’m really interested in learning more about,” said Karen Zhuang, a high school student from Toronto.
“She’s always been a role model for me.”
Kanwarpreet Karwal, a Plan Canada youth ambassador and fourth-year life sciences student at McMaster University said it was inspiring to see so many young people turn up, hoping to create change.
“I’m just excited to learn whatever I (can) take away and implement in my life so that I can make a positive contribution in this world,” Karwal said.
The Economic Club of Canada has said the former first lady will be participating in a “fireside chat-style” conversation at the event that is closed to the media.
The organization’s president and CEO have said a number of tickets purchased for the event were to be donated to a young person between the ages of 14 and 24, with young people across the country able to apply to attend through a site set up by Plan International Canada.
Rebecca Frost, a second-year student from Queen’s University, was one of those who had applied for a ticket and said she looked forward to Obama’s take on the economics of gender equality.“She’s an inspiring woman,” Frost said of the former first lady. “She just has a lot of wisdom to share.”
The Obama-Biden visits are the latest in a string of trips north by well-known American politicians.
Former Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton were in Montreal last month to promote her new book. She also spoke in Toronto in September and is scheduled to speak in Vancouver on Dec. 13.
Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, also visited Montreal last month to discuss the Canada-U.S. relationship with former prime minister Jean Chretien, and U.S Senator Bernie Sanders was at the University of Toronto last month to heap praise on Canada’s health care system.