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Ohio Legislature Urges Addition of Canada to Religious Freedom Special Watch List

Ohio House Resolution 194

On June 1st, 2022 the Ohio House of Representatives voted in favour of urging the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to put Canada on its Special Watch List due to the Canadian government's severe violation of religious freedom.

The approval of this resolution signals Ohio’s overwhelming support for religious freedom in Canada, which is the state’s immediate neighbour to the north and its primary international trading partner.  The resolution draws attention to a persistent pattern of violation of religious rights which are upheld by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Religious liberty is considered preeminent, the first of the first, in the U.S. Bill of Rights.  If these rights are not respected, what other rights will be lost next? In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998, the U.S. President is required to annually review the status of religious freedom in every country in the world and designate as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) any country in which the government is engaging in or tolerating “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” The Act defines particularly severe violations as “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom,” including violations such as: (1) torture; (2) prolonged detention without charges; (3) forced disappearance; or (4) flagrant denial of life, liberty, or security of persons.

Under the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2016 (Wolf Act), the U.S. President is required to put on a Special Watch List (SWL) “each country that engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom during the previous year, but does not meet” all the criteria for being designated as a CPC.

Should the Commission on International Religious Freedom accept the recommendation of the Ohio House of Representatives, Canada will be joining  Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua on the Special Watch List.

HR 194 will be distributed to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, President Biden, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Prime Minister Trudeau, Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, Speaker of the Senate of Canada, and the news media..

Liberty Coalition Canada would again like to thank Representatives Stoltzfus, Ginter and the Ohio House of Representatives for their unwavering support of religious freedom in Canada.

Documents relating to HR 194

https://www.ohiohouse.gov/legislation/134/hr194

https://www.ohiohouse.gov/legislation/134/hr194/committee

Video of speeches

https://www.ohiohouse.gov/session/video/ohio-house-of-representatives-6-1-2022-part-2-184413

Video Starts 35:36 Ends 50:11

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