It was really great to have a couple of the best Member Parliaments our government has with us at our benefit. MP David Sweet (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale) and MP Harold Albrecht (Kitchener-Conestoga) honoured us with their presence and support last November. We had the opportunity to speak with MP Sweet regarding some of the steps that Canada's federal government is taking to support persecuted religious minorities around the world.
Here is part of the interview transcript:
Phoebe Samuel: We are so honoured to have you here, and I would like to ask you -- how can the Canadian government help endeavors like Love Thy Neighbour International's-- to help the persecuted and marginalized Christians in Pakistan?
MP Sweet: In Pakistan and really there's Christian minorities all over the world that are being persecuted --so there's a lot of ways that the Canadian government can help and individual parliamentarians like myself can help. One of them obviously is through CIDA and through the grants that we give through CIDA to non-governmental organizations that have specific qualifications. One of the ways is through the new Office of Religious Freedom to make sure that we're speaking out and that people know exactly how we feel --that we continually tell them --that human rights need to be an important part of the agenda of every government-- and they need to, no matter what the situation is they need to continue to get better at that and of course human rights and religious freedom go hand in hand. And individual parliamentarians like myself --I sit on the sub-committee for human rights, and we continue to look at countries who are human rights abusers and try to do what we can to speak out and let them know that other countries are watching and that they should get their house in order.
Phoebe Samuel: I'm glad that this government is making a clear effort, specifically with the idea of the Office of Religious Freedom. We have been hearing about it for nearly two years now, I hope it will come to fruition.
MP Sweet: Oh it'll come to fruition, I think that starting a new Office of any kind is significant --not only do we want to have the right person who is involved as the Ambassador or whatever the title is going to be; but also make sure that the Office is structured appropriately so it can be effective. When you do something new you want to do it right the first time out, and so I think the extra time is a caution that's needed to make sure that we build it in a way that's going to be sustainable and going to make it have the impact that we want it to have as well.
Phoebe Samuel: We are proud of our Prime Minister--
MP Sweet: So am I!
Phoebe Samuel: --and our Conservative government; that they really have a heart to help those that are being persecuted all over the world from any religion, and we really thank you for all these things and more --for standing up for Israel, for standing against violence.
MP Sweet: Well thank you, and yes you are right there are religious minorities all over the world that are being persecuted but the ones that are at the top --with the most numbers are the Christian minorities.
Phoebe Samuel: Absolutely, we agree with you 100%. So as Christians we need to support those people.