Ottawa bureau chief
Stephen Harper used an Easter weekend visit to a Mississauga religious centre to promote his party’s pledge to create an Office of Religious Freedom to promote religious freedoms around the world.
“It will call attention to the religiously persecuted and condemn their persecutors. It will signal to religious minorities everywhere that they have a friend in Canada,” Harper said during a Saturday morning stop at the Canadian Coptic Centre.
And he paid tribute to new Canadians who have suffered for their religious beliefs abroad and sought refuge here.
“The spirit that you have shown in standing up for freedom in your own lives should inspire all Canadians,” Harper said, according to a statement released ahead of the event.
It’s Harper’s second visit this year to the Coptic centre in Mississauga, which features a church and large community centre. Harper came here in January to meet with community leaders and members of the clergy to show support after attacks on Coptic Christians and their religious institutions in Egypt.
The office will work out of the department of foreign affairs to monitor and promote religious freedom around the world.
In a statement, Harper also pledged that a re-elected Conservative government would continue to ensure that the government would offer protection to vulnerable religious minorities through “our generous refugee settlement programs.”
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has signaled his support to the Conservative initiative though he said it would be important that the office offer support to all religions.
Isn't this the role of the Church?