The Harper government is once again engaged in a war of words with a United Nations agency.

Canada can’t credibly preach human rights on the international stage when too many of its own citizens are going hungry, the UN’s right-to-food envoy, Olivier De Schutter, told The Canadian Press in an interview.

His comments come on the heels of a report De Schutter released Monday in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Council that cited several Canadian government policies as impediments to fighting poverty.

They include the cancellation of the long-form census in 2009, the ongoing Canada-EU free trade negotiations and the way Ottawa oversees the money it transfers to the provinces for social services.

“That is worrying because Canada, like any other country, is only credible when it preaches human rights to others if it is irreproachable itself,” De Schutter said.