Abolish office of religious freedom: Anthony Furey

Interesting that the call to disband the office is coming from the Toronto Sun which generally supported the previous government:

It really does look like the office is just multicultural pandering, letting various religious groups – and they’re well-represented on the office’s 23 member advisory committee – feel the government is going to bat for them around the world.

It’s not exactly a “Canada first” endeavour, is it? I’m rather uncomfortable with us encouraging religious leaders into thinking their priorities are automatically Canadian policy priorities.

It’s even in the mandate: “The office will promote freedom of religion or belief as a Canadian foreign policy priority.”

A good and true sentiment, but a priority? No thanks. Canada’s foreign priorities should be about geopolitical stability with a view to our economy and security interests. If religious freedom becomes a secondary goal in these ventures then fine, but it shouldn’t be a standalone one.

However Garnett Genuis, Conservative MP for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, believes the office is doing good work and hopes the Liberals keep it.

“Religious persecution is increasing and there are religious undertones to a lot of conflicts that exist in the world today,” he told me in a phone interview.

“If you believe the government should be involved in development assistance to some point, this is a very effective way for the government to be contributing to global harmony,” Genuis adds. “It helps to elevate our reputation as a country that takes human rights seriously and is willing to put its money where its mouth is.”

If these activities are priorities for the government, they shouldn’t be undertaken by a secondary office, but directly championed by the foreign affairs minister. And if they’re not that important, then leave them to the NGOs. There’s really no compelling reason for the Liberals to maintain this office.

Source: Abolish office of religious freedom | Furey | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto Sun

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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