Republicans in the Ohio House vote to put Canada on a federal watch list
The Ohio House passed a resolution (House Resolution 194) late Wednesday night that urges the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to add Canada to a religious freedom watch list.
Republican Rep. Tim Ginter (R-Salem) backed the resolution for the way Canada handled lockdowns of churches and actions it took against religious leaders 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 religious leaders who violated COVID protocols in Canada were jailed. And he says that's not a behavior Ohio should condone. He said this resolution would send a strong message to Canada.
"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.
Stoltzfus said this behavior is "very similar to what we see in Communist-controlled China."
But Democrats said it was unnecessary and even out of line for the Ohio Legislature to pass this resolution. Rep. Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) said questions about religious freedom are important. But she said 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.
Rep. Daniel Troy (D-Willowick) 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.”
Canada is also a strong trading partner with Ohio. 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.
The resolution passed along party lines with Republicans voting for it, Democrats voting against it.