NEW YORK - Canadian diplomats at the United Nations, including Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, boycotted a speech Tuesday by the president of Iran.

In recent years Canadian officials, along with those from other Western nations, have made a show of walking out on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whenever he addresses the UN General Assembly.

It's meant as a form of protest against Iran's human rights record and controversial nuclear program.

"Past speeches by the Iranian president in UN fora have contained elements of Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism and condemnation of Israel," Cannon said in a statement.

"Canada believes that this type of behaviour violates the UN's spirit of international co-operation, and we have chosen not to engage with President Ahmedinejad in this forum."

Despite the exodus, the Iranian leader told the assembly that capitalism is facing defeat and is calling for an overhaul of the "undemocratic and unjust" global decision-making bodies.

He called on world leaders, thinkers and global reformers "to spare no effort" to make practical plans for a new world order. Ahmedinejad also proposed the UN christen the current decade the Decade for Joint Global Governance.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is courting the UN for a coveted spot on its mighty Security Council, was to announce Tuesday that Canada is contributing $540 million to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, a source said.

Harper was scheduled to speak to a special UN meeting in New York on the Millennium Development Goals, a UN initiative to reduce global poverty.

Harper's announcement is taking place despite a recent federal government announcement that it will freeze Canada's overseas development assistance budget at $5 billion a year.

The prime minister will address the General Assembly on Thursday in an appearance aimed at convincing the world body that Canada should get a spot on the Security Council. Portugal and Germany are also vying for the two-year temporary spot on the council.

Canada's passionate support of Israel, however, has not impressed the Arab bloc at the United Nations, nor has freezing all aid to Africa won him any friends in that impoverished continent.