Conservatives would create Office of Religious Freedom

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Reference: National Post

Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen glaze hot cross buns during a campaign stop at a bakery in Mississauga, Ontario April 23, 2011.
Postmedia News Apr 23, 2011 - 1:08 PM ET | Last Updated: Apr 23, 2011 1:31 PM ET

By Mark Kennedy

MISSISSAUGA, Ont -- Canada will put the spotlight on religious persecution in the world through a new Office of Religious Freedom if voters re-elect a Conservative government, Tory leader Stephen Harper pledged Saturday.

Harper said the new office, to cost $5 million annually, would be located within the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa.

Harper said its task would be threefold:

• Monitor religious freedom around the world;

• Promote religious freedom as a key objective of Canadian foreign policy;

• Advance policies and programs that support religious freedom around the world.

The pledge was first revealed in the Conservatives' platform released earlier in the campaign, and Harper chose to put the focus on the promise during a campaign stop Saturday at the Canadian Coptic Centre. Coptic Christians face persecution, including killings, elsewhere in the world and Harper said Canada stands by them to support their freedom.

Harper was surrounded by party supporters, including several Tory candidates from the area. Also in attendance were people who had come to Canada seeking religious freedom.

Harper praised those who had come to Canada fleeing religious persecution, some of whom had been tortured.

"Canada is fortunate to have men and women of such courage as you," he said.

"The spirit that you have shown in standing up for freedom in your own lives should inspire all Canadians."

Harper said Canada is a society where freedom of conscience does not lead to the threat of persecution or violence.

Still, he said Canadians must not forget how others are persecuted throughout the world.

"While we are thankful to live in a country that spares us such tests, we must not let our comfort be an excuse to shirk our commitment to the cause of freedom."

Harper paid tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's minister of minorities, who was shot to death earlier this year. He had been a strong defender of religious freedom and had visited Harper in Ottawa shortly before his death in his homeland.

Harper called him a champion of freedom and told the crowd that Bhatti had asked Canada "to shine a light on the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan and around the world."

Harper said the new Office of Religious Freedom will "call attention to the religiously persecuted and condemn the persecutors."

"It will signal to religious minorities everywhere that they have a friend in Canada."

Posted in: Holy Post Tags: Conservatives, Election 2011, Office of Religious Freedom, Stephen Harper


Jim Blake

All glory goes to the living God, maker of the heavens and the earth, for He alone is worthy of all glory and honor and praise. I consider the sufferings of this age not worthy to be compared to what is to come for those who place their faith in the King of kings and persevere in faith, day by day, until the end.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;

To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

Psalm 103:11-18

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