Goodness how time flies! Remember my post about the Harper Government’s creation of the ridiculous Office of Religious Freedom? That was three and a half years ago!
Since that time, I haven’t heard a peep about the Office on the news. Not one word. Granted I could have missed it, but if there were some really significant news, I strongly suspect I would have heard something. But it’s been only crickets.
So what is the Office of Religious Freedom up to today? As a separate department, nothing at all. The latest post on their Facebook page is from January. The reason for this is the Liberal Government closed the department in March1. I was thrilled with this news, but my joy is somewhat tempered. The newly created Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion is absorbing the role of the now defunct office.
There are two things I really don’t like about this new department.
The most obvious is that one of its major roles it to champion the rights of indigenous peoples, worldwide. My thinking is that Canada has far from a sparkling record of dealing with its own First Nations people, and perhaps that could be a focus before mucking about in other country’s business. Maybe, just maybe, once we have half a clue about how to deal with our own indigenous people with respect and equality, we could export that knowledge. Right now we’re hardly the people to tell others what to do.
The second is they’ve tripled the annual budget to $15 million.
I’d really like to know what these departments do. I’m sure there’s no end of talk about ‘important work’ and ‘building relationships’ but it all boils down to press releases posted at irregular intervals on a web page that no one can find. Surely they could help us understand where all that money is going if it really is important.
- Lee Berthiaume, “Liberals’ replacement for Office of Religious Freedom will promote broader range of rights,” National Post, 2016-05-17