Canadian PM named statesman of the year

Sept. 12, 2012 at 8:58 AM
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OTTAWA, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- A New York organization has declared Canada's Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper as its World Statesman of the Year for 2012.

Harper will travel to New York Sept. 27 to accept the honor from the 47-year-old Appeal of Conscience Foundation, which was founded by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the Globe and Mail reported.

Last year, the foundation gave the honor to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Other past recipients include German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Harper's staunch support of Israel and opposition to Iran's current leadership were factors in naming him for the award, Schneier said. Harper was also praised for creating an Office of Religious Freedom in Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, which opens later this year, the newspaper said.

The award is being given out during the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly, during which time national leaders make speeches. However, Harper has snubbed the opportunity and Canada's foreign minister will speak instead.

The prime minister last spoke to the United Nations in 2010 in a failed bid to secure a seat on the Security Council.

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