As your Member of Parliament, it is important to ensure that all voices are represented in our public discussions, including Canadians of faith. I have noticed that faith perspectives can be ignored in our public discourse and this is concerning. I am committed to ensuring that we have an ongoing dialogue in which no voices or perspectives are left out. I am working on an issue that might be of interest to you and I welcome your feedback.
In the last Parliament, our government created an Office of Religious Freedom within Canada’s department of Foreign Affairs, more recently known as Global Affairs. This office was and is fairly modest in scope with a budget of $5 million. But this office is punching above its weight. Most of its resources go directly to supporting programs in troubled regions of the world. And the office also helps Canadian public servants understand the important role that religion occupies in many international conflicts.
When it comes to religious persecution, the numbers are staggering. Christians face more persecution today than they did during the period of the early church. Sikhs and Hindus in places like Afghanistan face significant persecution, which has led to a dramatic decline in their populations. Uyghur Muslims in China and Tatar Muslims in Russia are under increasing pressure and many human rights groups have recognized that what is happening to Yazidis, Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq is nothing short of genocide.
Canada needs to be involved in promoting religious freedom, tolerance, and pluralism around the world. The mandate of the Office of Religious Freedom is set to expire on March 31st and we have been calling on the government to renew its mandate and to let it continue to do its vital work. The work of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom is needed now more than ever.
If you agree with me on this issue, please consider circulating the petition (see download button above) and sending it back to my office for presentation in the House of Commons. This will help us show the government that renewing this office is a priority.
If you are interested in having me or another member of my team come in to speak to your congregation about religious persecution around the world, I would be happy to do that as well.
My very best wishes to you and yours;
Kelly Block, M.P.
Carlton Trail–Eagle Creek