Member of Parliament Ted Hsu visited Queen’s yesterday to speak about religion and science.
His talk was delivered to a class on religion and democracy, where he was invited by Professor Mehmet Karabela.
Hsu said he typically speaks in business and science classes.
“I usually get asked to speak in those classes because I have a background in them,” he told the crowd. “I accepted the invitation to speak here today because I thought I would get a lot of questions I couldn’t answer.”
He said he’s in Kingston for the next two weeks due to the Easter recess in Ottawa on Parliament Hill.
“I’ve been meeting with a lot of my constituents during this time in my office downtown,” he said.
During his time visiting the Religion class, Hsu talked about topics including multiculturalism in Canada, whether politicians need to be forthcoming with their religion and who he’s supporting in the Liberal leadership race.
A student asked Hsu about his thoughts on the Harper government’s new Office of Religious Freedom and he said he’s cautiously “suspicious.”
“Politically, we’re suspicious as to why the government is setting up this office and what it tends to do,” he said. “Being the opposition, we wonder whether this office is going to be selective to further the agenda of the government.”
Hsu reiterated that it’s also too soon to tell whether the appointment of this new office will be good or bad for religious pluralism in Canada.
“One should always give a new organization a chance to prove itself to see what happens.”
Hsu didn’t discuss any personal details about his religious beliefs during his talk, and said Canada is lucky because the religions of politicians never really comes up.
“In the United States, they have to say ‘I’m Christian and I go to church every Sunday,’ but here, nobody is looked down upon for having religious faith,” he said.
Hsu added that being familiar with the religious beliefs of your constituents is the most important part.
“If you’re elected, you’re representing people who sometimes have strong religious beliefs, so you have to understand them.”
The MP also divulged his thoughts on the Liberal leadership race and revealed who has his vote.
“I’m currently supporting Joyce Murray … her platform is very focused on sustainability and she’s interested in a particular kind of cooperation between the progressive parties in the next election,” Hsu said.
He acknowledged that his opinion is definitely not the norm among his colleagues.
“Almost all of my party colleagues are supporting Justin Trudeau, but that’s okay. I don’t mind being a little bit different.”
Hsu will also be speaking in Dupuis Hall tomorrow from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on the topic of science policy. All are welcome to attend.