FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, ON – David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills-Grasslands and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Human Rights and Religious Freedom, last night hosted the 7th Annual Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom on Parliament Hill.
“The focus was on getting an update on religious freedoms in Canada. This has been a turbulent few years for faith communities in everyday life,” said Anderson. “The speakers’ presentations tied together and highlighted many challenges faced by Canada as we face issues around this fundamental human right.”
To a packed room, Don Hutchinson (Author and Principal, Ansero Services) provided expert analysis of the legacy of the Beverley McLachlin Supreme Court on religious freedom.
Spurred by recent government-imposed values tests such as the Canada Summer Jobs attestation, Dr. David Guretzki (Vice-President, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada) spoke on the role of government in influencing the religious freedom of Canadians.
The second panel provided passionate, first-hand testimony from leaders in some of Canada’s religious communities. Imam Luqman Ahmed (Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada) condemned the ongoing persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslims around the world and praised Canada for the freedom to worship as we choose. He quoted the words of the 4th Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, when expressing the hope that “Canada becomes the whole world, and the whole world becomes Canada.”
Raheel Raza (President of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow and Founding Member of the Muslim Reform Movement) underlined the need for increased intra-faith dialogue, and rejected the notion of a ‘whole-of-government’ response when it comes to addressing religious discrimination.
Father Raymond J. de Souza (Editor-in-Chief, Convivium.ca) addressed the degradation of religious freedom, asserting that it is descending from the status of a fundamental freedom to a partisan position. The use of religious freedom for political gain, he noted, is contrary to the purpose of a fundamental freedom.
Finally, Ray Pennings (Executive Vice-President, Cardus) illustrated the enduring benefits of faith for believers and non-believers alike. He challenged attendees to “figure out how to respectfully live together in difference” in the future.
“Many thanks are owed to the speakers for their time, expertise and passion for these issues,” said Anderson. “It is important to give freedom of religion or belief the platform it deserves. It affects every Canadian, whether they consider themselves religious or not.”
For more information on this year’s Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom, including photos and video, visit http://www.davidanderson.ca/7th-parliamentary-forum-on-religious-freedom/.
– 30 –
For more information, please contact the office of:
David Anderson, MP: (613) 992-0657