February 16, 2016
OTTAWA - Religious Freedom Ambassador Andrew Bennett has received a temporary extension of his contract with Global Affairs Canada—at least until March 31.
“Dr. Andrew Bennett has shown remarkable ingenuity, sensitivity and competency over the past three years in serving as head of Canada's Office for Religious Freedom and we are grateful for his continued service,” said an e-mailed statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion Feb. 15. [...]
[...] Dion has signaled a change in emphasis from religious freedom on its own to a greater focus on human rights in general.
In a Jan. 28 speech to the Ottawa Forum, Dion said: “As Canadians, we are driven by the principles that human rights are universal, interdependent and indivisible.”
Religious leaders from a range of faiths have urged the Liberal government to retain the Office of Religious Freedom and Bennett.
The Catholic Civil Rights League added its voice those of various Muslim, Jewish and other Christian groups in a Feb. 5 letter to the Prime Minister and Dion in support of the Office of Religious Freedom.
“We are deeply concerned about suggestions that the office might be closed and that Ambassador Bennett might not be renewed. At this particular period in international affairs, Canada cannot afford an abandonment of our strong commitment to freedom of conscience and religion at home and especially pursuing that objective abroad,” wrote the League’s executive director Christian Elia. [...]