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July 24, 2013

Harper advocates for religious freedom?

Reuel S. Amdur

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I recently had an article about the persecution of the Muslim Rohingya minority in Burma published in the Seventh Day Adventist magazine Liberty. The editor tacked a note at the bottom of the article noting that the Canadian government has recently created an Office of Religious Freedom. He thought that that Office might want to pursue the matter.

Some have suggested that the Office is just a cheap exercise in vote-getting in the ethnic communities, without any real substance.  I decided to test the reality of the Office by calling their attention to my article.

The first step was to go to Google.  It had an entry for Prime Minister Harper’s announcement of the establishment of the Office.  A click on that item led me to the official website of the Prime Minister.  There one indeed found the announcement of the establishment of the office. 

At the bottom of the page was the direction: “For more information about the Office” we were given a web address to contact.  Clicking on that address I was taken to a page on the site of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFAIT), which had an article about the Office.

At the bottom of the DFAIT page was the following: “For more information on the Office of Religious Freedom, please contact us.”  Clicking on the “contact us” link opened another DFAIT window.  There was nothing on the page to lead us to the Office of Religious Freedom or to give more information about that Office.  However, the page does contain an “Enquiry Service—on line Form.”  At the top of the “contact us” form there is a mandatory item to be chosen from a drop-down menu.  The Office and the topic of religious freedom are nowhere to be found on the menu.

Nowhere on the page is a postal address or an e-mail address.  You can see how important this program is for the Harper government.  We can only caution the editor of Liberty: Don’t get your expectations up too high.

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