Frequently Asked Questions

How do I obtain more information regarding the Office of Religious Freedom?

  • Consult the Enquiries Services contact form, phone number & the Department's mailing address.

What is the mandate of the Office of Religious Freedom?

  • The Office of Religious Freedom will promote freedom of religion as a key Canadian foreign policy priority and will be an important vehicle through which Canada can advance policies and programs that support, promote and protect freedom of religion or belief worldwide.
  • Its activities will be focused on those countries or situations where there is evidence of egregious violations of the right to freedom of religion, violations that could include violence, hatred and systemic discrimination.

Why is the Government establishing an Office of Religious Freedom?

  • The Office, announced by Prime Minister Harper on February 19, 2013 is dedicated to promoting freedom of religion or belief as a key Canadian foreign policy priority.
  • The Office is an important component of the Canadian government's efforts to advance human rights, including freedom of religion, around the world. It will advocate on behalf of religious minorities under threat, oppose religious hatred, and promote Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance.

How does the Office work?

  • The Office of Religious Freedom is led by an Ambassador appointed by the Government of Canada supported by four Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada departmental employees.

How much is this initiative costing the Government of Canada?

  • The Office will have an annual budget of $5 million to support programming and operations.

What specific activities will the Office be undertaking to promote religious freedoms?

  • The Office will focus on advocacy, analysis, policy development and programming relating to (i) protecting, and advocating on behalf of, religious minorities under threat, (ii) opposing religious hatred and (iii) promoting Canadian values of pluralism and diversity abroad.

Were consultations held on the development of this new Office?

  • Consultations have been widely undertaken.
  • At every opportunity, our Government has said that Canada will be an outspoken ally of freedom around the world.
  • Canada will continue to seek out like minded partners to promote and protect freedom of religion.

Do other countries maintain a dedicated Office of Religious Freedom?

  • The United States Department of State is the only other country that has a dedicated Office of Religious Freedom.  However, many other potential partner countries are playing an increasing role in promoting religious freedom.

What is the role of the Ambassador?

  • The Ambassador for Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom will engage interlocutors around the world, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to promote freedom of religion or belief as a key Canadian foreign policy priority.
  • The Ambassador will work to advance policies and programs that support, promote and protect the rights of religious minorities to practice their faith in safety and security.

How was the Ambassador chosen?

  • The Ambassador was appointed by the Government of Canada after a process that determined his background was best suited to lead the Office of Religious Freedom. 

What is the Religious Freedom Fund?

  • The Office of Religious Freedom will administer the Religious Freedom Fund that will seek to:
    • Compel action internationally against violations of religious freedom by contributing to greater awareness of threats to religious freedom and by promoting pluralism;
    • Strengthen the Government of Canada’s response to specific violations of religious freedom; and,
    • Promote education on issues related to freedom of religion.

Can I contribute to the Religious Freedom Fund?

  • The Religious Freedom Fund does not accept or solicit funds from the public.  It is sourced from existing Government of Canada funds and has an annual budget of $4.25 million.

Can I work for the Office of Religious Freedom?

Will the Office remain objective and treat every religion equally?

  • This Office will form an integral function as part of our efforts to promote human rights, encourage protection of religious minorities around the world, and promote Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance.
  • Canada will continue to speak out against the discrimination of those who simply wish to practise their faith in safety and security.
  • Through this Office, the Government will continue to consult broadly with world leaders, as well as a wide range of faith-based groups in Canada and abroad to further the protection of religious minorities.