Stephen Harper won’t address the UN General Assembly when it gathers in New York this week, just as he didn’t address it last year or the year before.
The Prime Minister will be in New York, but won’t make the trip to UN headquarters to join other government leaders at the podium. John Baird, the Foreign Affairs Minister, will get that honour, as he has for the past two years. Instead Harper will co-chair a session on health issues for women and children in developing countries, part of a Conservative initiative launched in 2010, and take part in a discussion on the economy at the Canadian-American Business Council.
New Democrats consider this an outrage. “It’s embarrassing that the Prime Minister — for the second year in a row — will be in New York during the opening ceremonies of the UN General Assembly, but apparently can’t be bothered to show up, stand up, and speak up on behalf of Canada,” intoned Paul Dewar, the NDP critic.
Mr. Dewar speaks before he thinks. Other than a few leaders — the U.S., China or Russia — General Assembly speeches draw little attention beyond the leader’s own delegation. But they’re very popular with international despots who enjoy the chance to harangue less repressive countries under the protection of the UN banner.