Anderson calls for strong Canadian presence at Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

Ottawa, ON – David Anderson, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Human Rights and Religious Freedom, today called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to mount a strong and active Canadian presence at the first-ever U.S. State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, being held in Washington, D.C. from July 24-26.

“This first-of-its-kind event is an important moment for human rights,” said Anderson. “It is encouraging to see the United States recommit to its active role in promoting and protecting global freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). It is an excellent opportunity for Canada to do the same.”

Over 80 countries are expected to be represented at the Ministerial. It will provide a venue to equip civil society organizations with the necessary tools to promote FoRB, train legislators on the ‘role of government’ in responding to threats to FoRB, and establish new commitments to protect and promote the embattled right through regular conferences and foreign policy.

Anderson remarked that Canada can no longer sit on the sidelines while the international community takes issues of religious freedom seriously. “The Canadian government needs to engage in this initiative. Unfortunately, it seems to have little interest in supporting this basic human right.”

According to the Pew Research Centre, over seventy percent of the world’s population suffers under some form of religious discrimination.

“It is clear that Canada is unfortunately not interested in supporting this basic human right,” said Anderson. “The Liberals closed our Office of Religious Freedom and dismissed our Ambassador while other countries began appointing their own. The United States and the United Kingdom are amplifying their voices on FoRB while Canada remains silent.

“I’m encouraged that the Ministerial will be ‘more than just talk’ and will not be the last of its kind. Canada must be an active participant. Attacks on Religious Freedom are at the heart of many of the problems facing the world today and must be taken seriously. It is not optional,” he concluded.

– 30 –

For more information, please contact the office of:
David Anderson, MP: (613) 992-0657