A Canadian official says his attempt to discuss human rights with a foreign government prompted it to throw Quebec's controversial values charter back at him.

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Andrew Bennett, Canada's ambassador for religious freedom, says his attempt to discuss human rights with a foreign government prompted it to throw Quebec's controversial values charter back at him. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Canada's ambassador for religious freedom said the issue came up as he was discussing minority rights in Turkey with a representative of the government there.

Andrew Bennett said that's the only time the proposed charter has come up during his first year in the position.

Because his mandate does not involve domestic issues, Bennett said he can't offer a personal opinion of the Quebec legislation that would bar people who wear hijabs, turbans, yarmulkes and large crucifixes from working in the public sector.

But he does reject any attempt to compare the persecution of minorities abroad with what's happening in Quebec.

He said Canada has an office of religious freedom because it enjoys that freedom at home — which includes constitutional protections, backed up by politicians who will fight for minorities and a legal system where people can seek redress.