Harper award in New York upsets critics

Sep 25, 2012 | News

Harper will miss the 67th Annual United Nations General Assembly to accept award

By Julie Fish

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to accept an award for his commitment to democracy this Thursday in New York City, but the timing means he won’t be attending a session at the United Nations, sending his foreign minister instead.

The prime minister is being honoured by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. The group has named him as their latest World Statesman of the Year. Previous award recipients have included South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In a press release sent to Humber News, the foundation explained their decision to give Harper the award.

Stephen Harper in Jan. 2010 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. COURTESY REMY STEINEGGER

The Appeal of Conscience Foundation said it will honor Harper “as a leader of integrity who has earned the respect of his people, for his commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights and peace in the service of humanity.”

The foundation is described on its website as an interfaith group that lobbies for freedom and human rights.

When Harper accepts this award in person it will result in his missing the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly happening nearby in Manhattan at the UN. Instead, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will attend the assembly at the world body on behalf of Canada.

“I find it very contradictory that he is receiving this award,” Sharon DeSousa, of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, told Humber News.

“As a world leader, he is not choosing to network and build relationships and to be a part of the dialogue of solving issues in the Middle East,” she said.

“I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t want to speak to the General Assembly,” NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar, said in a report on Canada.com.

“It appears that they’re trying to pick and choose what institutions they deem as relevant. And the UN doesn’t seem to be on that list,” Dewar said in the Canada.com report.

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