Ottawa, ON – David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills-Grasslands and Official Opposition Critic for International Human Rights and Religious Freedom, was pleased to host the 5th Annual Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom, held in Ottawa on the evening of May 2, 2016. Organized by MP Anderson, this year’s forum was entitled, “Religious Freedom or Secularism? A World Safe for Diversity: Living with our Deepest Differences.”
“Attendance at this year’s Forum was overwhelming,” said Anderson. “Given the concerning state of religious freedom in many areas of the world, it is important to discuss it so we can ensure that it flourishes in increasingly secular societies.”
“Even in a country like Canada, we have issues with religious freedom on the national and on the local stage,” continued Anderson. “Canada has an international leadership role to play in defence of this fundamental human right. Tonight’s event is a vital part of determining how politicians, faith leaders and all citizens can contribute to that.”
More than 180 Members of Parliament, Senators, religious leaders, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and members of the general public took part in the evening’s events, which featured contributions by experts in the field of freedom of religion, including:
- Dr. Os Guinness, International Adjunct Speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, author, and social critic. Dr. Guinness is a renowned apologist and author of editor of over 30 books. He delivered the keynote address which underlined the importance of protecting the “civil public square;” one that allows people of all beliefs to enter and participate within a just political framework.
- Dr. Janet Epp Buckingham, Associate Professor of Political Studies and History at Trinity Western University. Author of numerous academic publications on religious freedom, Dr. Buckingham touched upon the contemporary debates and issues surrounding freedom of religion in Canada.
- Dr. Mario Silva, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University. A municipal and federal politician from 1994 to 2011, Dr. Silva spoke about the international complexities of religious freedom.
- Mr. Abdu Murray, North American Director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, who closed the evening with lively and engaging remarks.
In addition to the keynote address and panel discussion, panelists and guests had the opportunity to engage in an open discussion – a feature of the evening that Anderson feels is highly valuable and worthwhile, and appreciated by those who attend.
Anderson noted that he intends to host further parliamentary forums in the coming years. “It is very important to stand up for the freedom to believe or not to believe – perhaps now more than ever. Opportunities like this provide a unique opportunity to contribute to this all-important debate on a national platform”.
For more information on this year’s Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom, as well as information on previous forums, visit www.DavidAnderson.ca.