Politics smirched religious freedoms office of Tories in Canada

An internal evaluation by the Canadian Government  has concluded that efforts made by the former Conservative government for the promotion of religious freedom across the world was smirched by the perception that there was political interference. In its project review, the country was positioned by Office of Religious Freedoms as a world leader.

The work done by the Canadian government at that time, however, was tainted by the disagreement of how the work was executed and lack of transparency concerning its aims. There were also concerns that the office has a biased approach on which countries or the religions it worked with. To give an example, Christians constitute to be one of the maximum persecuted minorities and thus it would be logical for the Canadian office to support this group. The problem, as per the report is that if the information is not accurately and consistently communicated during such politically sensitive times, then the Office of Religious Freedoms will be seen as biased towards Christians as opposed to the other religious groups. The evaluation also found that it was not enough to have an extensive outreach with the religious groups.

The report goes further on to say that the absence of consistent and broader information sharing to public resulted in inefficiencies. It also hindered the efforts of the ORF to make sure that the office was seen as unbiased from favoring any kind of religion or specific group. 

The office wa first announced by the conservatives in 2011. Work, however, did not start until Andrew Bennett was appointed as an ambassador in 2013. The motivation of this program was the killing of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Pakistani minister in charge of the minorities. He was assasinated by the Islamic extremists. Ironically, the announcement made in 2011 was met with skepticism. The Liberals termed it as a kind of domestic political ploy and not a strategy for human rights promotion.

The evaluation said that diplomats, religious groups and a number of other organizations which have a stake in this matter thought that the office can turn out to be helpful.  It went on to say that as it was noted by international interviewees that since there is only a restricted number of leaders and actors on the freedom of belief or religion, the work done by Canada is appreciated owing to the fact that it fills a gap. Consensus, however, was lacking when it actually comes to practice.

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