Ohio House Republicans Vote to Put Canada on Federal Watch List

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The Ohio House passed a resolution Wednesday night that urges the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to add Canada to a religious freedom watch list.

The move, to some, seems like a headscratcher but Republican Rep. Tim Ginter (R-Salem) backed the resolution because Canada locked down churches and arrested religious leaders who violated COVID-19 protocol during the pandemic.

“This resolution is not the result of a singular incident or even a handful of incidents. It’s a persistent pattern of religious rights violations that has driven us to this point,” Ginter said.

Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Paris Township) said that’s government interference that Ohio should not condone, and the resolution sends Canada a strong message.

“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,” Stoltzfus said.

Ohio House Democrats had a seemingly more pragmatic view.

Rep. Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) said questions about religious freedom are important but Canada, not the state of Ohio, should be addressing those issues.

“We should be addressing the issues that our constituents are asking for such as stricter gun policies, legislation to protect women’s rights and reforming our rigged criminal justice system. At this point in time, we are focusing on issues that are not even within our jurisdiction,” Humphrey said.

Some House Democrats said Ohio has no business trying to tell Canada how to run its country.

“Before we start the War of 1812 here again with our Canadian neighbors (laughter in chamber), I just want to remind everybody that they’ve been a strong and loyal N.A.T.O. member. They are one of our strongest allies,” Rep. Daniel Troy (D-Willowick) said.

Canada is the top destination for Ohio businesses that export, taking in about 40 percent of all of Ohio’s exports. More than $20 billion worth of Ohio goods and services are exported to Canada each year.

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