Stephen Harper chooses to speak at New York award ceremony but not the UN

Andy Radia
Canada Politics

Stephen Harper is being accused of snubbing the United Nations.

On Thursday, Harper and his entourage will travel to New York to accept the World Statesman of the Year award given to him by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

While he will address the crowd of about a 1,000 VIPs at the upscale Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, he won't address the United Nations general assembly;  he's delegated that task to foreign affairs minister John Baird.

NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar thinks Harper should be the one speaking at the UN.

[ Related: UN treats 'jaywalkers' like 'rapists and murderers' when blasting Canada's human rights record: watchdog ]

"I can't imagine why he wouldn't want to speak to the General Assembly," he said according to PostMedia News.

"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."

If Harper is indeed snubbing the UN, is anyone really surprised?

In recent years the UN has done a lot of things that have been counter to Canada's foreign policy.

Last summer, they named North Korea chair of a UN disarmament conference. That's North Korea, a country that has breached a number of arms embargoes and has made threats to expand its nuclear weapons program.

The UN continues to allow Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address the General Assembly and spread untruths about our Israeli and American allies.

[ Related: Liberals and Conservatives speaking out against Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's upcoming UN speech ]

In November, while the international community was dealing with the human rights atrocities taking place in Syria at the hands of the Assad regime, UNESCO welcomed the embattled Arab country to its human rights committee.

And most recently, Russia and China vetoed a security council resolution that could have led to meaningful intervention in Syria.

While the UN was rewarding the likes of North Korea and Syria, they haven't been afraid to publicly chastise Canada.

Last December, James Anaya, the United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous peoples of the UN, called the housing crisis in Attawapiskat "dire" noting the problem appears to be widespread.

"I have been in communication with the Government of Canada to express my deep concern," Anaya wrote in a statement.

"The social and economic situation of the Attawapiskat seems to represent the condition of many First Nation communities living on reserves throughout Canada, which is allegedly akin to third world conditions."

[ Related: Another UN body smacks Canada, this time for Quebec law restricting large protests ]

The Department of  Aboriginal Affairs likened that statement to a "publicity stunt."

Different UN agencies have also been critical of the Harper government's treatment of alleged war criminals, for its food security programs, and for changes to the refugee act.

Certainly the UN does a lot of good work as well,  but, for now, you can't really blame Harper for giving them the proverbial cold shoulder.