Federal bureaucrats told Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to tread carefully in a meeting last month at the Vatican about his plan to set up an office of religious freedom within his department.

A briefing note obtained under the Access to Information Act by The Canadian Press pointed to a potential trouble spot with the Vatican which is watching a case before the Supreme Court of Canada.

The case involves the parents of Drummondville, Que., students who object to the religious teaching their children receive and bureaucrats advised Baird not to mention the case. If it did come up, they suggested he dismiss it as a provincial matter.

The parents object to their children being forced to take a course in ethics and religious culture because it teaches them about other religions, not just Catholicism. The parents argued that the course caused “premature” contact with a series of beliefs that ran counter to the religious faith of their family.

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