As reported by the CBC, a document was obtained through access-to-information laws which was evidently designed as a cheat sheet for potential questions John Baird might soon face regarding another of the Conservatives’ campaign pillars that is about to come to fruition, the creation of an “Office of Religious Freedoms”. This document suggests that the Tories are afraid that the new office might be seen as a creeping invasion of religiously partisan programs designed to encourage certain religions via government funds.
And well they should, because that’s exactly how I view this nonsense.
Updated: inserted links I’d missed in draft when I wrote this on the plane.
Some of the questions and proposed answers:
One of the anticipated questions speaks to the heart of the government’s ongoing partisan project to woo immigrants and ethnic groups: “Is the creation of this Office politically motivated to curry favour with certain constituencies?”
The answer steers away from domestic and partisan concerns completely: “This is about upholding Canada’s commitment to defending fundamental human rights, the right to freedom of religion and belief, opposition religious hatred and promoting Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance abroad.”
Given that this government has been increasingly attempting to sway certain pockets of religious voters to continue voting Conservative, I see this as nothing short of attempting to duplicate the near-total one-party religiosity that exists presently in the States. A major theme of his entire Prime Ministership has been the wholesale importation of all the worst aspects of the Republican Party: the attempt at establishing a nation-wide news propaganda outfit akin to Fox News, the coarsening of the political discourse and use of fear tactics in political campaigns, the realigning of copyright laws to kowtow to the RIAA/MPAA, the destruction of even the most obvious and most basic of gun control laws to curry favor with the most rural of voters, and now the kowtowing to religious interests. With the Majority of the 39%, he’s steamrolling this country right off the damned cliff, out of some twisted understanding of reality wherein all those things are working just so well for the States right now.
Also included in the media lines drafted for Baird was a question about the relationship of the government to religion, a sensitive topic among Conservatives who feel they’ve been unfairly branded in the past as beholden to evangelical interests.
“Some have criticized the proposal to create the Office of Religious Freedom as a blurring of the time-honoured line that separates church and state. What’s your reaction to this comment?”
The written answer portrays the drive to create the office as an extension of Canada’s defence of human rights: “That tradition forms an integral part of Canadian foreign policy and is a priority for the government. History has proven that religious freedom and democratic freedom are inseparable.”
Freedom to practice religion, or not, as you see fit, is wholly and truly protected by our Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It is protected with all the force of our legal system domestically, though these laws have very rarely been used to protect atheists from being forced to participate in religiously motivated projects. It is therefore unnecessary for this office to exist, since as far as anyone can tell, it exists to allow specific religions to encourage the government to, at their discretion, take up their relgiously motivated causes.
As an atheist, I plan on recommending that one of the very first causes this office considers be “please do not spend any of my goddamn tax money on any religiously motivated causes.” I don’t know how well that’ll work out. I wholly expect it will fall on deaf ears, knowing as I do just how evangelical a Christian Harper (and so many of his fellow ex-Reformers/Alliance members that presently drive policy in the Conservitave Party of Canada) happens to be.