A United Nations watchdog Hillel Neuer has come to Canada's defence arguing that lumping our human rights record with the records of Algeria, Belarus, Jordan and Russia is categorically unfair.
The defence comes in response to a report, released Thursday, by UN special rapporteur Maina Kiai who said Quebec's controversial anti-protest law — Bill 78 — was among eight laws in the world that are "particularly harsh in terms of restricting the freedom of association."
"States should protect the rights of all individuals, including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists or even migrants, to assemble peacefully and associate freely," the report states.
Kiai's report is the second UN rebuke of Bill 78 in less than a week. On Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also blasted Bill 78 as "alarming.''
[ Related: UN's Pillay smacks Canada for Quebec law ]
According to Postmedia News, the latest rebuke came shortly after Belarusian diplomat Andrei Taranda chastised Kiai for not being more critical of Canada over police actions used to disperse students demonstrating against tuition hikes in Montreal.
"Have you tried to delve into the reasons behind these frequent protest movements?'' asked Taranda.
UN Watch, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, says the Belarusian attack is simply a common ploy.
"Too often at the UN, a doctrine of political correctness compounded by pressure from powerful blocs of states leads to jaywalkers being treated the same as rapists and murderers," said Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, in a statement Thursday.
"Targeting Quebec's protest laws do not promote higher human rights standards, but the opposite. If the brutal and oppressive regime of Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko is equal to Canadian democracy, people may conclude that maybe [Lukashenko]'s not so bad after all."
This week's comments about Bill 78 are the latest in a string of criticisms directed at Canada in recent years.
The UN has also criticized the Stephen Harper government for its treatment of alleged war criminals, for its food security programs and for changes to the refugee system.