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Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassador

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Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassador

Postby grammafreddy » Feb 16th, 2013, 12:56 pm

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/16 ... mbassador/

Prime Minister Stephen Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassador

Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News | Feb 16, 2013 1:46 AM ET

Image
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil the government’s long-awaited Office of Religious Freedom on Tuesday.
Grant Black / Postmedia News Files


Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil the government’s long-awaited Office of Religious Freedom and name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassador at a Toronto-area Ahmadiyya Muslim community centre on Tuesday.

The announcement at Tahir Hall in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan will fulfil a two-year-old promise that has seen its fair share of controversy since it was first proposed during the 2011 federal election.

The government has pointed to a growing body of literature linking religious freedom with democratic rights and societal well-being to justify making the safeguarding of religious minorities abroad a key tenet of Canadian foreign policy.

But critics have worried about the government picking and choosing which religions the $20-million office defends, and using the institution as a tool for domestic political gain.

The government has not officially confirmed the prime minister’s presence at Tahir Hall, which was opened by the minority Ahmadiyya Muslim community last July and can hold 800 people.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s spokesman Rick Roth would only say the office “is a priority for our government, and is a part of our principled foreign policy.”

However, numerous organizations have confirmed receiving invitations to the prime minister’s event, which was first reported by Ottawa-based foreign policy newspaper Embassy.

Those interviewed expressed cautious excitement about the religious freedom office’s official launch.

They say the need to protect religious minorities and freedom is as critical now as when the government promised the initiative two years ago.

But the fact the office has taken so long to come together, and that the details remain largely unknown, provides reason enough to temper expectations.

“We will have to see what happens with the office and what the mandate is,” said Gerald Filson of the Baha’i Community of Canada. “We haven’t seen the mandate and we don’t know who the ambassador is.”

The ambassador’s identity could be a key indicator of how the Harper government sees the office functioning, which may explain reports it had a hard time finding someone to take the position.

“It’s probably a difficult appointment, a delicate appointment,” Filson said. “Anything to do with religion is delicate. It’s a very tough appointment.”

Similarly, it remains unclear exactly what the office will do, or how it will fit into Canada’s dealings with the rest of the world.

“The potential (for the office) is great,” said Kathryn White, executive director of the United Nations Association of Canada. “But there remain lots of potential pitfalls in terms of how the office actually conducts its mandate.”

The Conservative government has said it is planning to spend $5 million a year on the initiative over the next four years.

Documents obtained through access to information show $500,000 will go to the office; where the rest will go is unclear.

The government does plan to include Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canadian foreign aid agency, CIDA, in the initiative.

This implies visas or refugee settlement as well as money to individuals and community organizations representing religious groups enduring discrimination.

There is precedent for such an office; in 1998, the U.S. administration of President Bill Clinton signed off on a similar initiative, which had been unanimously approved by Congress after nearly two years of fractious debate.

But while boasting successes, the U.S. effort has been accused of bias against Muslims, championing Christianity, and using taxpayer dollars to pursue pet projects.

Similar concerns have been raised over the past two years as the Harper government has moved to create a Canadian office.

Some Muslim groups have complained they were excluded from consultations, while a recent study found a surge in the amount of Canadian foreign aid money channeled through religious groups, many of them Christian.

The government has also defended its decision to channel foreign aid money through an evangelical group, Crossroads Christian Communications, that posted anti-gay messages to its website.

NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar noted the government discussed the office with international religious leaders, such as leaders of the Coptic Orthodox church, that boast a large number of members in key ridings across Canada.

However, the government refused to meet with international human rights groups.

Dewar said this raises concerns the office will simply be an extension of the Harper government’s ongoing effort to court certain ethnic groups.

“There is nothing wrong with the issue of promotion of religious freedom,” Dewar said. “But this seems to be more about domestic politics than about international affairs.”



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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby Sn0man » Feb 16th, 2013, 1:57 pm

grammafreddy wrote:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil the government’s long-awaited Office of Religious Freedom and name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassador at a Toronto-area Ahmadiyya Muslim community centre on Tuesday.


Seriously? :137:
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby omisimaw » Feb 16th, 2013, 2:23 pm

OMG mixing religion with state! An utter waste of tax $! A political ploy for minority votes in its finest...

These decisions would be better handled by placing them on the docket at the polls.

Totally opposed to this waste of taxpayer money.
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby SmokeOnTheWater » Feb 16th, 2013, 3:33 pm

Harper cut Katimavik's program to spite Trudeau stating they could no longer afford it.
I guess he found a few coins under the couch's cushions to fund this " Office .... ".

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-ed ... t-584.html
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby Glacier » Feb 16th, 2013, 10:46 pm

I don't think this new "ambassador" is meant to look after the religious at the exclusion of the non-religious. After all, the right to religious freedom also means the right to be non-religious, and the non-religious and secularists are facing significant persecution as of late in Egypt and elsewhere.

Dhimmis are moving here in droves, so I would suspect this is the reason behind the government’s move. In the past 10 years the Iraqi Christian population has shrunk from 3.5 million to 2.5 million thanks to emigration (as well as murder and conversion). The Christian Copts (ie. the native ethnic Egyptians) are leaving in droves, as are the secularists, just as the Armenians, Greeks, and Jews left before them. The government is too PC to identify the problem publicly, so I guess this is their solution to dealing with it.

BTW, Obama was the first President in history to make a pact with any religion when he stated that America has a duty to defend the religion of peace against negative stereotypes [presumably, even if they are true].
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby SurplusElect » Feb 18th, 2013, 11:47 pm

We are in debt and many Canadians go without services.

...and a "fiscally conservative" government just created a desk job for a priest.

NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar noted the government discussed the office with international religious leaders, such as leaders of the Coptic Orthodox church, that boast a large number of members in key ridings across Canada.

However, the government refused to meet with international human rights groups

“There is nothing wrong with the issue of promotion of religious freedom,” Dewar said. “But this seems to be more about domestic politics than about international affairs.”
Last edited by SurplusElect on Feb 19th, 2013, 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby cliffy1 » Feb 19th, 2013, 1:24 am

Office of Religious Freedom: has a ring of "Ministry of Truth" about it, what? Orwell must be chuckling from his grave.
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby Glacier » Feb 19th, 2013, 9:51 am

cliffy1 wrote:Office of Religious Freedom: has a ring of "Ministry of Truth" about it, what? Orwell must be chuckling from his grave.

I was thinking the same thing when I first heard the news. It's kind of concerning that both the Liberals and Conservatives are touting this as a good idea. I have to agree with SurplusElect in that sure isn't a fiscally conservative move by any stretch of imagination.
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby hobbyguy » Feb 19th, 2013, 1:31 pm

I don't think government should have any presence in the theatre of religion. Period.

Oh well, maybe I can lodge a complaint with them about proselityzers coming to my door and offending my non-religious sensibilties...thus impinging on my freedom of religion.
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby Glacier » Feb 19th, 2013, 1:41 pm

hobbyguy wrote:Oh well, maybe I can lodge a complaint with them about proselityzers coming to my door and offending my non-religious sensibilties...thus impinging on my freedom of religion.

On second thought, maybe this is a good idea since people seem so clueless on the difference between persecution and proselytization.
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby SurplusElect » Feb 19th, 2013, 6:39 pm

Why doesn't this fall under the Human Rights Commission mandate?

If a religion or belief/non-belief is being messed with - then take it to...

Oh that's right. Once a week Stephen Harpers buddy Ezra Levant writes a slag-paper on the Human Rights Commission and the huge waste of taxdollars that it is.

I guess this is different somehow. More specific to the Conservative target voter religious/non-religious Canadian citizen.
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby logicalview » Feb 20th, 2013, 2:02 am

SurplusElect wrote:Why doesn't this fall under the Human Rights Commission mandate?

If a religion or belief/non-belief is being messed with - then take it to...

Oh that's right. Once a week Stephen Harpers buddy Ezra Levant writes a slag-paper on the Human Rights Commission and the huge waste of taxdollars that it is.

I guess this is different somehow. More specific to the Conservative target voter religious/non-religious Canadian citizen.


No one needs to write a slag paper about the HRC's to see how horribly corrupt and what a giant waste of money they are.
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby SmokeOnTheWater » Feb 21st, 2013, 9:55 pm

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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby Sn0man » Feb 22nd, 2013, 4:49 am

logicalview wrote:
No one needs to write a slag paper about the HRC's to see how horribly corrupt and what a giant waste of money they are.

No doubt. "Albino Rhino" anyone?
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Re: Harper to name Canada’s first religious freedom ambassad

Postby dudlee » Mar 5th, 2013, 5:28 pm

crazyoleme wrote:OMG mixing religion with state! An utter waste of tax $! A political ploy for minority votes in its finest...

These decisions would be better handled by placing them on the docket at the polls.

Totally opposed to this waste of taxpayer money.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

We're you opposed to the Long Gun Registry , that was a waste of Billions or Christy and Gordos Hst or their gasoline Carbon Tax that was to go to environmental issues ? Other than the Gun registry funds that just went to Chretien's Quebec mafia pals , the rest was just a joke .

The most wasteful spending was the Billions y Tru-Dum in the7 0's towards bilingualism for the 7% of the population that speaks french .

Allowing religious rights is a fundamental democratic right , sorry the way Left Communists do not like it , but hey , let's legalize Pot?

No wonder this country is so fudged up
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