Cardus president Michael Van Pelt, whose think tank researches the role of religion and religious institutions in the public square, told the gathering that the importance of religion is often not reflected in current human rights discourse, which tends to ignore the importance of civil society.
Van Pelt cited a number of examples where ignorance of religion or fear of religion raise concerns about religious freedom at home in Canada. He noted that in some modern city plans there is no reference to religious institutions or places of worship. In a recent Ontario election, the issue of funding of religious schools became the trump card that defeated Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory, he said. The subtext, was fear of radical Islamic schools, he said, and a willingness to “make other religions pay a price to prevent them.”