Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Rabbi Arthur Schneier in OttawaIn the midst of all the domestic noise about Canada's international reputation going down the toilet, there's this: Later this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be awarded the World Statesman of the Year award by a prominent New York foundation.
The award is given out annually by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, founded by Rabbi Arthur Schneier in 1965.
"This interfaith coalition of business and religious leaders promotes peace, tolerance and ethnic conflict resolution," notes the organization's website.
"The Foundation believes that freedom, democracy and human rights are the fundamental values that give nations of the world their best hope for peace, security and shared prosperity."
In a telephone interview with Yahoo! Canada News, Rabbi Schneier said Harper was chosen as this year's 'Statesman' because of his international leadership for freedom, democracy and human rights.
"One specific issue, but not the only issue is [Canada's] establishment of the Office of Religious Freedom," he said.
"But its much broader than that. He is standing up for democracy in the Baltic states and is also [taking] a significant role in the international scene. When you think of all the major meetings and visits that have taken place in Canada that is really a tribute to [him]," he said.
"I met him for the first time, last week and I must say he impressed me as a leader who knows where he is going with self-confidence and self-assurance and a great defender of democracy."
Harper will travel to New York on September 27 to accept the award and will speak to a crowd of about 1,000 people with, what Rabbi Schneier calls, a "major address."
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These aren't your 'Mickey Mouse' made on your home computer awards. Others individuals to be celebrated at this year's event include Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup, and Virginia Rometty, president and CEO of IBM, who are both receiving the organization's Appeal of Conscience award.
Previous recipients of the World Statesman of the Year include Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Jean Chretien received the award in 2002.
Whether left-leaning Canadians want to believe it or not, Prime Minister Stephen Harper — and for that matter, Canada — still has some champions abroad.