Employment Minister Jason Kenney received a "Moral Courage Award" this week in Geneva from UN Watch, a vocal critic of the United Nations and pro-Israel advocate.
Mr. Kenney is in the midst of finalizing major reforms to Canada's temporary foreign worker program, but he took a short break to visit Switzerland and receive the award.
"When others have been silent while serial perpetrators of human rights abuses like Iran and Syria seek to hijack the UN's human rights and anti-racism causes, Minister Kenney has been a clear and consistent voice for their millions of victims, opposing tyranny, hypocrisy and injustice," said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in a news release.
The ceremony was attended by an envoy for the Dalai Lama, who placed a traditional Tibetan scarf on the minister to recognize his support for Tibetans, the release stated.
Although Mr. Kenney has never held an international relations portfolio, he is an influential voice on foreign affairs in cabinet. He holds pro-Israel views and stresses human rights over trade when it comes to Canada's relationship with China. He has also intervened on behalf of Christians facing persecution in such predominantly Muslim countries as Pakistan.
Mr. Neuer, the UN Watch executive director, is a Canadian lawyer who is originally from Montreal. Liberal MP Irwin Cotler is a member of the group's international advisory board.
Mr. Kenney supported UN Watch in the House of Commons last year after controversial UN special rapporteur Richard Falk called for an investigation of the organization, accusing it of launching a "smear campaign" against him.
"Richard Falk is an embarrassment to the United Nations Human Rights Council," Mr. Kenney told the House on June 11, 2013, calling Mr. Falk a "disgrace" who should be fired. "He has praised 9/11 conspiracy theorists repeatedly. He has suggested that the United States provoked terrorist attacks against it. He is now attacking a Canadian-led UN Watch. We call on Richard Falk to be fired as a special rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council." Media statements by UN Watch cover a wide range of geopolitical issues related to the UN, but mostly focus on the tension between Arab states and Israel and the related lobbying of other states over such issues as resolutions and appointments. In addition to receiving the award, Mr. Kenney met with two Swiss government leaders to discuss skills training.