June 14, 2018 12:28 pm
Updated: June 14, 2018 12:38 pm

Former New Zealand P.M. receives University of Alberta honorary degree

Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme, speaks at the launch of UN stabilization fund's report Human Development Report 2016 at Norra Latin in Stockholm, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency via AP)

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The University of Alberta has given a former New Zealand prime minister an honorary law degree.

Helen Clark received the honour Thursday morning during the faculty of agricultural, life and environmental sciences and faculty of business graduation, where she also gave a keynote address.

READ MORE: Notley calls U of A Suzuki decision ‘tone deaf’ but supports university independence and debate

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Clark served as New Zealand’s prime minister from 1999 to 2008. During her reign, Clark focused on reducing inequalities, protecting the environment, building arts and culture and settling longstanding issues with that country’s indigenous people.

In 2009, she became the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, which focuses on promoting sustainable development around the world. She remained in that position until last year.

Last week, the university controversially gave an honorary doctor of science degree to longtime environmentalist and oilsands critic David Suzuki.

The Edmonton university announced in April that Suzuki was one of 13 people who would receive the honour this spring.

READ MORE: David Suzuki receives honorary science degree from University of Alberta

It prompted a flood of complaints, along with critical public letters from the university’s deans of business and engineering.

Protesters gathered outside the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium during Suzuki’s ceremony.

The university honoured 13 people with honorary degrees this spring.

This year’s recipients also include agriculture advocate Nettie Wiebe, physicist and science educator Brian Cox, francophone culture expert France Levasseur-Ouimet, and journalist and CBC foreign correspondent Nahlah Ayed.

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