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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Canada: New religious-freedom watchdog faces uphill battle

But Bennett, the Ambassador of Religious Freedom, acknowledged the new office is not sitting well with all of Canada’s trading partners. He said the Chinese were upset when Mr. Harper singled out religious persecution in China during his February announcement of the new ambassadorial appointment. During a discussion with Mr. Junsai, Mr. Bennett said, the Chinese ambassador called on Canada to be consistent in what it says about the Asian country in public and behind closed doors.
“One of his concerns was that what we say publicly is also what we say privately,” the Canadian official said.
Mr. Bennett said he told Beijing’s envoy that he believes Canada and China can have a “mature discussion” – but he added he would be firm on the need to speak out about China when necessary.
“When it comes to human rights and particularly freedom of religion, we will continue to express our concerns in that area, and I said to him at the time that I will be meeting with groups such as Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong, Christians,” Mr. Bennett said. “I don’t think he was particularly pleased with that.”

 More at the Globe and Mail

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