A cheering crowd welcomed an injured Hillary Clinton to the stage at the Palais des congrès de Montréal on Oct. 23. She opened by jokingly describing her doctor’s orders to heal her recently fractured foot.
“The doctor said rest, ice, compress, and elevate,” Clinton said. “So I said, ‘Yes, and Montreal.’”
Clinton was in Montreal to promote her memoir, What Happened, which describes the 2016 U.S. presidential election from her perspective. She expressed her appreciation for the welcoming Canadian audience, remarking on the uniquely close relationship between Canada and the United States.
“I so admire [Canada’s] commitment to a diverse and open society,” Clinton said. “It must be very reassuring to have a charismatic, compassionate leader who cares about people and policy. I remember what that was like.”
Clinton spoke about her election loss and how she motivated herself to get back into the public sphere. She reflected on what it was like to deliver the concession speech she never expected to give, and compared Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration to getting a root canal but on steroids.
She blamed the outcome of the election largely on former FBI director James Comey’s investigation, the exaggeration of her email controversy, and Russian intelligence hacking. Clinton found Russia’s federal election interference particularly worrying from a global perspective. She equated the Putin administration’s aggressive efforts to undermine liberal democracies to a modern Cold War, propagated through hacking and the spread of false information. Clinton emphasized the importance of holding political leaders accountable.
Clinton also reminded the audience that today’s American political system is still rife with ingrained misogyny.
“The only way we will get sexism out of politics is to get more women into politics,” Clinton said. “Young women have come to me telling me they want to run [for office], and I’ve been encouraging them to do it, but I’ve also been very clear that they have to recognize the double standard is alive and well.”
Clinton commended the activists that participated in the Jan. 21 Women’s Marches, at which over four million individuals worldwide came together to stand up for women’s rights and other social justice causes, although she herself chose not to attend
“I wanted badly to join the crowds and chant my heart out,” Clinton writes in What Happened. “But I believed it was important for new voices to take the stage, especially on this day. There are so many exciting young women leaders ready to play bigger roles in our politics.”
Clinton applauded the new activism that has surfaced following the 2016 election—namely, athletes kneeling during the national anthem—with people standing up for human rights and democratic values filling her with hope.
“We’re on the right side of history,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s critical take on sexism and female involvement in politics resonated with audience members.
“[Clinton] reminded [me] that the glass ceiling is far from broken,” Alexander Bloomfield, U2 Arts, said after the talk.
Other McGill students at the event expressed optimism—after the event, they commended Clinton for her accomplishments and her role as a trailblazer for women’s rights.
“[As the only female presidential nominee for a major American political party, Clinton] holds a perspective that no other woman in the world has,” Alexa Coleman, U2 Arts, said. “She is fiercely progressive and embodies the archetype of a strong, kick-ass, status quo-defying modern woman.”
Clinton encouraged Americans—and Canadians—to continue the momentum she started by standing up for what they believe in, a fitting end to her speech that mirrors the way she signed off on the final page of her book.
“‘What do we do now?’ I said. There was only one answer: ‘Keep going,’” Clinton wrote.