Canadian Member of Parliament Introduces A New Bill: No Foreign Aid to Countries That Do Not Respect Religious Freedom
On March 20 of 2003, a Canadian Member of Parliament from Calgary West, Mr. Rob Anders, introduced a new bill in the House of Commons -- "No Foreign Aid to Countries That do not Respect Religious Freedom." This bill is an act to amend "the Special Economic Measures Act." Said Anders, "Some of the largest recipients of Canadian foreign aid are the worst abusers of human rights in the world." "A bill such as I have introduced today in the House of Commons would mean that Canada would no longer abet tyrants who flagrantly abuse human rights."
The bill points out that "The enactment requires the Governor in Council to make any order or regulation necessary to prevent any Canadian public money from being used to fund any of these activities ... for the benefit of any foreign state so named. These activities include the provision of goods, technical data, financial and other services, and movements of aircraft and ships."
The bill further states when making a designation whether or not a country is one that prohibits the freedom of religion and belief, the Governor in Council will rely on "The Declaration of the United Nations" and evidence or protests provided by the foreign minister, and necessary information the foreign minister will provide.
That same day Mr. Anders said in a press conference regarding the bill he introduced, "We have used Canadian aid dollars that are going to help some dictators who practice torture, suppress freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. There are dictators who receive foreign aid and they need to have their received humanitarian assistance brought before the Justice and Foreign Affairs Committee. There has to be a link between human rights and foreign aid." He added, "Some of the largest recipients of Canadian foreign aid are the worst human rights abusers in the world."
Mr. Anders added, "China, for example, is the second largest recipient of official development assistance moneys from Canada and has one of the worst records of repression of religious freedom. People there are not allowed to freely practice their religion and must register with a state-sponsored church. Then, choosing to worship outside of a Party-controlled church is considered anti government, and people can face imprisonment and often torture. During the past few years, an intensification of the crackdown has taken place against the spiritual movement Falun Gong, which has resulted in thousands of arrests and the brutal torture and murder of many of those practitioners."
Commenting further, Mr. Anders stated, "A bill such as I have introduced today in the House of Commons would mean that Canada would no longer abet tyrants who flagrantly abuse human rights."
If this bill passes, it will become law. Concluding, Mr. Anders said that "The Bill will probably be open for discussion in the fall, and I hope that it will be passed."