Canada on Religious Freedom Watch List?

“The Ohio House of Representatives, led by Republicans, passed a resolution this week urging the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to add Canada to its watch list. Citing the ways Canadian lawmakers handled COVID-19 lockdowns and targeted churches, even jailing one pastor for more than a month, state Rep. Tim Ginter (R) presented legislation asking the federal government to add the northern country to a list of nations where religious liberties are in jeopardy. ‘This resolution is not the result of a singular incident or even a handful of incidents,’ he said in a statement, according to WKSU-TV. ‘It’s a persistent pattern of religious rights violations that has driven us to this point.’ At the height of Canada’s overbearing restrictions, government authorities in Alberta arrested and jailed James Coates, pastor of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, for more than 30 days because he held in-person worship services, a violation of unilaterally enacted government edicts. Ohio state Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R) referenced Coates’ incarceration, arguing such treatment by government authorities should not be tolerated and ought to be clearly condemned. ‘While Ohio has stood up for religious freedom and protected the right to attend religious services, it is clear Canada has not done the same,’ he said, describing the authoritarian mandates enacted by Canadian officials as ‘very similar to what we see in Communist-controlled China.’ Albertan Pastor Artur Pawlowski was also subject to heavy-handed government treatment, reportedly spending two months in solitary confinement for inciting ‘mischief’ over his participation in the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ along the U.S.-Canada border, a weeks-long demonstration earlier this year protesting COVID-19 restrictions. Yet another pastor in Alberta, Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church, was arrested in 2021 for organizing in-person worship services, a violation of a government injunction. Stephens was arrested at his home by Canadian police, who escorted him into the back of a squad vehicle while his children cried uncontrollably.”

“Ohio Lawmakers,”, June 3, 2022