Minister Baird Holds a Roundtable Consultation on Office of Religious Freedoms

Religious freedoms have always been at the heart of the Jewish community’s civic engagement, here and abroad. This is why the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ General Counsel Richard Marceau participated in the roundtable consultation on the Office of Religious Freedoms, held today in Ottawa, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Religious freedoms are at the heart of human rights and democracy; when religious freedoms progress, humankind is freer.

Today, 70% of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedoms is restricted one way or another. That should make us realize not only how lucky we are to live in a country where everybody is free to practice his/her religion, but also how important it is for Canada to do all that it can in order to help those in less fortunate situations.

As a community, we look forward to the establishment of the Office of Religious Freedoms.

The Government of Canada released the following statement regarding this occasion:

"Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird holds a round-table consultation on October 3, 2011, regarding the establishment of Canada's Office of Religious Freedom at the headquarters of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in Ottawa. Minister Baird welcomed close to 100 religious leaders, association representatives and experts from across Canada to give their input as the government prepares to deliver on its promise of establishing an Office of Regious Freedom.

"It is our common duty to defend the rights of the afflicted, and to give voice to the voiceless," Minister Baird said. He added, "Our positions will not soften, our determination will not lessen, and our voices will not be diminished until all citizens can enjoy the freedoms and rights we hold to be universal and true."

This is one of several consultations the government is conducting across the country and around the world. The Office of Religious Freedom is a key priority for the government. The commitment was included in the Speech from the Throne on June 3, 2011, and again in Minister Baird's speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2011."

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