Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says his department’s new Office of Religious Freedom won’t become a vehicle for playing domestic politics in Canada’s immigrant communities.

Baird dismissed criticism that the new office could lead to an uncomfortable mix of religion and politics.

“Freedom of religion is one of the first things in the Charter, it’s one of the first things in the Bill of Rights, it’s front and centre in the UN Declaration of Human Rights — it’s an essential human right; I don’t see any concern about that at all,” Baird said in an interview.

The Tories announced the creation of the office in their federal election platform last spring, but they have yet to roll out details of the new entity, to be housed within Foreign Affairs. The government is expected to formally announce the new office early this year.

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