Here are the three things you should not have missed:
With the announcement that Dr. Andrew Bennett from Augustana College has been named the new ambassador for the Office of Religious Freedom with a $5 million budget, Power & Politics spoke with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Kenney said that the office will address issues of persecution of religious minorities around the world, and will do research and analysis for the empowerment and advocacy of those communities. When asked if it signalled a hierarchy of rights, Kenney said that freedom of conscience doesn’t violate other rights, and he was evasive when asked if the office would also protect atheists, going onto a tangent about CIDA funding women’s groups instead. On Power Play, Kenney noted that the office’s creation was inspired by the assassination of the Minister of Minorities of Pakistan, Shahbaz Bhatti.
Reacting to the news of Bennett’s nomination, Don Hutchinson of the Evangelical Fellowship said that the office could help Immigration assess claims based on religious persecution, and that it would be a strong supplement to other rights promotion work by the government. Liberal interim leader Bob Rae said that what was missing was how this office fits into the context of the government’s overall approach to human rights, democracy and rule of law. He also noted that the government did away with Rights and Democracy and their own planned democratic promotion agency, which seem to indicate an abandonment of attempts to reform and improve governance around the world.
In response to a report that says that hacking and cyber-attacks have been traced to a People’s Liberation Army building in Shanghai, connected to the military branch responsible for intelligence gathering, Evan Solomon hosted an MP panel of Michelle Rempel, Charmaine Borg and Francis Scarpaleggia to discuss the issue. Rempel touted the government’s legislation surrounding and funding for its cyber-security initiative, which showed that they were taking the issue seriously. Borg brought up the Auditor General’s report that showed the government to be moving slowly in response to these attacks. Scarpaleggia said that the government is in reactive mode, and that their previous spending was announced to head off that damning AG report. Former Assistant Director of Intelligence at CSIS Ray Boisvert said the report was credible, and shows the nature of “authoritarian capitalism,” where every tool of a country’s government is deployed to help their industry.