McGill grad Bennett named Office of Religious Freedom Ambassador

Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2013

By McGill Reporter Staff

McGill graduate Dr. Andrew P.W. Bennett has been named Ambassador to the Government of Canada’s newly created Office of Religious Freedom.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the establishment of the new Office within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which will be dedicated to promoting freedom of religion or belief around the world, as well as the appointment of Dr. Bennett.

Bennett, a public servant and academic with an extensive educational background in history, political science, and religious studies, has worked for the Privy Council Office, Export Development Canada and Natural Resources Canada in a wide variety of analytical, research and corporate roles. He has also held roles as Professor and Dean at Augustine College in Ottawa, as a Scholar Expert on the Americas Desk with Oxford Analytica and as a Researcher with the University of Edinburgh’s Institute on Governance where he focused on the process of devolution in Scotland. Bennett received a Bachelor of Arts in History (1st Class Honours) from Dalhousie University in 1995, a Master of Arts in History from McGill in 1997, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Edinburgh in 2002.

“Around the world, violations of religious freedom are widespread and they are increasing,” said the Prime Minister. “Dr Bennett is a man of principle and deep convictions and he will encourage the protection of religious minorities around the world so all can practice their faith without fear of violence and repression.”

Under Ambassador Bennett’s leadership, the Office – which is now operational – will promote freedom of religion or belief as a Canadian foreign policy priority. The Office will be an important vehicle through which Canada can advance fundamental Canadian values including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide.

“Our Government is dedicated to promoting the freedom and prosperity of the people it serves,” added the Prime Minister. We will work with other countries and all people of goodwill, to promote the principles we share.“

Specifically, the Office will focus on advocacy, analysis, policy development and programming relating to: protecting and advocating on behalf of religious minorities under threat; opposing religious hatred and intolerance; and, promoting Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance abroad. Activities will be centred on 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.

For more information about the Office, click here.


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