In an article published on May 25, 2016 Deborah Gyapong reported that the new Office of Freedom and Human Rights (OFHRI) had been established by the Canadian Government. Her report indicated that many Catholic agencies applauded this new office and welcomed it. Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said religious issues will be a key component of the new office’s mandate. The director general is Richard Arbeiter. The new office will have three divisions: Human Rights and Indigenous Affairs, Inclusion and Religious Freedom under the Director Giuliana Natale, and Democracy.
Josianne Gauthier from Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace said she was pleased to see a greater promotion of human rights, noting many people are persecuted for reasons other than religion, such as political beliefs or environmental activism. She also applauded the government’s adding indigenous rights to the mandate.
Carl Hetu, national director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association of Canada (CNEWA), says that it is now I think it’s up to us — organizations, churches and religions — to work with the government to ensure that religious freedom is always important in our foreign policy.
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