As I reflect upon our Easter celebrations this past weekend I am reminded that so many around the world do not have the basic human right of worshipping as they choose free from persecution.
In the last Parliament, our Conservative Government created the Office of Religious Freedom within Canada’s department of Foreign Affairs.
Due to the Liberal’s lack of support, its work ended as it was scheduled to sunset yesterday.
In an attempt to pressure the Liberals to support the continuation of this Office, we proposed the following Conservative motion which was debated on March 21.
That the House (a) recognize the good work being done by Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom, in particular its work within the Department of Global Affairs to build the Department’s capacity to address threats to religious freedom, and to directly promote peace, freedom, tolerance, and communal harmony; and, as a consequence, (b) call on the government to renew the current mandate of the Office, since the continuation of its vital work is needed now more than ever.
Sadly, the Liberals voted against this motion.
The Office of Religious Freedom punched above its weight. Most of its resources went directly to supporting programs in troubled regions of the world.
In addition, the Office also helped 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.
This Office was modest in scope with a budget of $5 million. I would think that in a high-spending budget like the one the Liberals introduced on March 22 they could find this comparatively small amount to continue the Office’s great work.
I have posted on my website (www.kellyblockmp.ca) a petition to the House of Commons to support the Office of Religious Freedom. I would encourage you to print a copy of the petition, get your friends and family to sign it and send it to me (Kelly Block MP House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6).
I hope you have a safe and wonderful weekend.
Kelly Block MP
Events and Activities
Monday, March 28: Spent Easter Monday with my family Tuesday, March 29: Worked in my Martensville office
Wednesday, March 30: Attended a luncheon hosted by the North Saskatoon Business Association, met with a constituent and worked in my Martensville office
Friday, April 1: Worked in my Martensville office and attended the Martensville business expo