Stay InformedJoin our maling list to receive free updates. Sign up now
* indicates required

Adventist Church Participates in Canadian Office of Religious Freedom Stakeholders' Consultations

On October 3, 2011, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable John Baird, held a meeting with representatives of Canada's diverse faith community. The purpose of the meeting was to, in his words, "exchange ideas on a key priority" for the Government of Canada: "establishing an Office of Religious Freedom."

The Minister of Foreign Affairs invited a number of representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada to participate in the exchange of ideas with him and the representatives of over 100 other religious communities. In attendance were Grace Mackintosh, General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, Ronald Kuhn, Director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency - Canada, and Gerald Chipeur, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Director for the Alberta Conference. Also in attendance was Barry Bussey, former Executive Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association and now Legal Counsel to the Canadian Council of Christian Charities.

Gerald Chipeur spoke during the round table consultation and highlighted the importance of support from the Canadian Government for the work of lawyers in courts around the world specifically defending the religious freedom of individuals oppressed by government or fellow citizens. Chipeur also asked the Government of Canada to confirm the status of the Office of Religious Freedom.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, Bob Dechert, Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, advised those in attendance that the Director of the Office of Freedom of Religion (not yet appointed) would have the most senior diplomatic rank, that of Ambassador.  Mr. Dechert also said that the Ambassador would have the full support of the Government of Canada in promoting and protecting religious freedom around the world. 

The Office of Religious Freedom was first announced in April of 2011. At that time, Canada's Immigration and Citizenship Minister, the Honorable Jason Kenney, said Canada needed to establish the Office to address the many instances of religious oppression encountered by people of faith, including the killing of Christians in Pakistan and Egypt, the killing of Jews in a number of areas of the world and the killing of moderate Muslims by extremists and terrorists.

When Canada's Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Stephen Harper, officially announced the new Ambassador for Religious Freedom, he highlighted the attacks on places of worship worldwide. In particular he focused on the attacks in Cairo on the Coptic faith.  He highlighted Canada's strong commitment to Religious Freedom by condemning the attacks, saying “the international community must stay vigilant against such violence against Coptic Christians.” He assured Coptic Christians in Canada that the country stands behind their right to safely practice their faith.