Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Downside of Stephen Harper's "Tikkun Olam" Office

Lots of people, apparently, look with favour upon the idea of the Canadian government launching an Office of Religious Freedom. What on earth would this new bureaucracy do? Supposedly, it would "protect religious freedom worldwide" (making it sound very "tikkun olam"-ish)--and who could possibly object to that? Well, B'nai Brith's Frank Dimant could, for one. He fears that, while the government has good intentions, there is the definite possibility that the move could pave the way for unintended--and hellish--consequences:
Dimant said that he recommended safeguards to prevent the office from being dominated by an anti-Christian, anti-Israel or anti-Western agenda.
“I would certainly caution the government that the Office of Religious Freedom be restricted in terms of its geopolitical mandate to countries that do not uphold democracy; for example, states that do not have free elections, a free press or an independent judiciary,” otherwise, he warned, “It could soon become an office dealing solely with Palestinian complaints, and completely sidelining issues such as the suffering of Christians in Pakistan, or of Hindus, Buddhists and Bahá’ís under Muslim regimes. We know that today there are burnings of churches and the murder and rape of Christians, which the world is ignoring. We have to concentrate on these all-too-real religious injustices.”...
Good call, Frank. Sure, a Harper government-helmed Office would probably have that focus, but I don't see that being the case if and when the Liberals or NDP come to power. Then, too, don't the feds already have enough planet-healing on their plate, what with CIDA? Do we really want government to grow even bigger, and establish yet another bureacracy at a time when, really, it should be cutting costs and cutting back?

Cabinet Minister Joe Oliver, on the other hand, thinks it's a grand idea:
Canada has been a leader on the world stage, taking a strong, principled stance against hate and discrimination. By establishing an Office of Religious Freedom our Conservative government is taking an important step to advance the goal that the liberties we enjoy as Canadians are enjoyed by everyone.
I dunno. I'd be much happier if the Tories were more concerned about the grievous harm being done to our liberties by the "human rights" industry right here in Canada. Never mind Pakistan, Mr. Oliver; what about taking a strong, principled stance against, say, Barbara Hall? Speaking of whom, back in the day, some smartypants politicians thought "human rights" commissions/commissioners were a swell idea, too. Should serve as a cautionary tale for the Tories and their Tikkun Olam Office, no?

No comments: