Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a swipe at the United Nations and assailed Iran Thursday as he picked up an international statesman award. He suggested once again that the UN has too often wooed dictators despite their appalling human rights records and sinister aims.
Canadians expect their government officials to endeavour to make decisions "for the wider interests of humanity," Harper told a reception at the glitzy Waldorf Astoria hotel after receiving his award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.
"That is, of course, not the same thing as trying to court every dictator with a vote at the United Nations, or just going along with every international consensus, no matter how self-evidently wrong-headed."
Harper's shot at the UN came as he was criticized back home for again skipping the United Nations General Assembly.
Hundreds of world leaders were gathered a few blocks away discussing the biggest global issues of the day, including the situation in Syria, the ominous dispute between Israel and Iran and the eruption of anti-American violence in the Middle East.
The prime minister pulled no punches in his own remarks about Iran after he accepted the foundation's "world statesman" award from Henry Kissinger, who served as secretary of state under former U.S. president Richard Nixon.
The civilized world must not "shrink from recognizing evil in the world for what it is. Our government simply contends that the international community must do more to further pressure and isolate this regime," Harper said to applause.
The elderly Kissinger, now 89 and frail, met with Harper earlier in the day at his Park Avenue office and said later Thursday that he agreed with Harper's tough stand against Iran.
Canada recently closed its embassy in Tehran and Iran returned fire this week, issuing a travel advisory to its citizens to steer clear of Canada because it was rife with "Iranophobia."
Past winners of the statesmanship award include Canada's Jean ChrÃ©-tien, Nicolas Sarkozy of France and former British prime minister Gordon Brown.
As both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, addressed the United Nations on Thursday, Harper met with the Haitian president at another nearby hotel.
Harper and Michel Martelly discussed efforts to bring economic stability to the impoverished, longsuffering Caribbean island, the recipient of $1 billion in Canadian aid since 2006.
The prime minister also sat down later in the day at the UN with Abbas, and is scheduled to meet this morning with Netanyahu. The Middle East peace process was the focus of the Harper/Abbas discussions.
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