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Ohio House Republicans vote to put Canada on a federal watch list

 A view of Canada from the Detroit, Michigan shoreline
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
A view of Canada from the Detroit, Michigan shoreline

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.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.