LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — The oldest son of Martin Luther King Jr. is praising Canada for being a beacon of freedom and he's urging people not to lose hope in the United States.
"No matter what the United States attempts to do, progress is going to move forward," Martin Luther King III said at a leadership conference in Lethbridge Tuesday. "I think the president will find that out very quickly because humankind is going to stand up and say we resist this and won't allow this to happen.
"We're a much better nation than the behaviour that seems to be exhibited. You never lose hope although it seems that things are dark and dismal."
King, who met privately with U.S. President Donald Trump before the inauguration, said the administration is off to a "rocky start" but he hopes it can strike a balance on immigration.
Trump imposed another travel ban on people from a handful of predominantly Muslim countries this week after his first executive order was overturned by the courts.
"Everyone should be vetted thoroughly, but I don't think you just deny whole groups of people," King said.
"That was a campaign promise. While I may disagree with it, I would give him high marks for attempting to do what he said he was going to do."
Trump was a successful businessman and is attempting to run the country as if it were a company, King said. But he said government is a "big, slow process."
Mid-term elections in two years will allow the public to register their concern, he added.
"There will probably be more people voting that have voted in mid-term elections in many years because of what happened in the leadership and what the president and Congress are going to do."
King encouraged participants at the Greatness in Leadership conference to get involved in social change including fighting climate change, domestic violence and ensuring immigrants succeed.
He harkened back to a series of lectures his father gave in Toronto 50 years ago where he paid homage to Canada for being a refuge at the end of the Underground Railroad.
As Canada continues to welcome immigrants from other countries, King said the reputation has grown.
"I, too, want to express my gratitude to Canada," King said. "Not only for serving as a haven from bondage and slavery, but also for providing a wonderful example that still sets one of the world's highest standards for freedom, justice and inclusiveness."
King said he was impressed with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when the two worked together before Trudeau was elected and even more so now that Trudeau has pushed for gender parity in his cabinet.
"That alone is a great achievement, but I know his legacy is already much broader and deeper with so much more to come," he said.
"You can rest assured that millions in the United States and around the world look to Canada for inspiration as one of the most progressive nations on Earth."
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press