Keep Office of Religious Freedom open, Wildrose leader urges Ottawa
Federal Liberals decided not to renew office's mandate, so it closed at the end of March
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and MLA Scott Cyr have written a letter to the federal Liberals urging them to keep the Office of Religious Freedom open.
The controversial office was established by the previous Conservative government. The federal Liberals decided not to renew its mandate, so the office closed at the end of March.
In their letter, Jean and Cyr urged Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion to reverse that decision, which they called a "glaring blow to our multiculturalism."
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"The office has annual funding of $5 million, a smart and strategic investment in protecting and defending this most fundamental of rights and freedoms," the letter states.
"It is the position of our party that it is important to renew the value we have put in this office.
"The mandate of the Office of Religious Freedom is admirable and, in our view, a key component in protecting every Canadian's right to religious freedom. When you look at what the office is working to achieve you can see its value."
The letter cites the persecution of the Yazidi Christians by ISIS in Iraq as an example of what faith communities are facing.
Garnett Genuis, the Conservative MP for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, posted a tweet thanking Jean and Cyr for writing the letter. Genuis brought forward a failed motion to save the office.
The Wildrose leader was reluctant to discuss the letter when asked about it by reporters but promised to release it. His staff sent a copy to the media moments later.
Jean was a Conservative MP for 10 years before stepping down in January 2014.
The office was criticized for mixing religion and politics. Some believed that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper created the office to appeal to faith groups.
Letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion (PDF KB)
Letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion (Text KB)CBC is not responsible for 3rd party content