Harper has private chat with teen shot by the Taliban

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Before turning to economic matters on the second day of his trip to New York, Prime Minister Stephen Harper met a Pakistani teen who became a champion for girls’ education after being shot by the Taliban.

The prime minister sat down with 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban last fall, only to recover in a British hospital and become an international figure.

On Wednesday, Yousafzai pleaded with world leaders to use education as a tool, rather than war, as she took part in the first anniversary of the Global Education First Initiative at the UN.

She urged United Nations member states to use books, not guns, in conflict zones.

“Instead of sending weapons, instead of sending tanks to Afghanistan and all these countries which are suffering from terrorism, send books,” she said

The prime minister’s office wouldn’t say what Harper and Yousafzai spoke about on Thursday, calling their get-together private.

The prime minister is also scheduled to take a grilling from American business leaders in a question-and-answer session with the Canadian American Business Council.

He is already taking heat in the Big Apple from critics of his push for an oil pipeline to pump crude into the U.S. southern states.

An editorial in the New York Times this week accused the Harper government of muzzling government scientists so they won’t publicly criticize the Keystone XL project.

The newspaper’s editorial board said Harper is bent on guaranteeing public ignorance by restricting scientists who receive government funding from sharing information, especially climate change research.

Harper has been pushing the Obama administration to approve the Keystone project, insisting that it will create jobs on both sides of the border.

But American critics of the proposal, including within the White House, have significantly downplayed the economic benefits of the plan.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.