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Robert Joustra

Robert Joustra (Ph.D., University of Bath) teaches politics & international studies at Redeemer University College, where he is also Director of the Centre for Christian Scholarship. He is the author and editor of several books, most recently The Religious Problem with Religious Freedom: Why Foreign Policy Needs Political Theology (Routledge, 2017). He is a Fellow with the Center for Public Justice and an Editorial Fellow with The Review of Faith & International Affairs.

Articles by Robert Joustra
  • Forcing Folks to be Free

    Robert Joustra

    Hardly the sun sets in the West these days without some new attempt at what Jean Jacques Rousseau might have mistily called “forcing folks to be free.” Doug Saunders in the weekend’s Globe and Mail calls for public prejudice for the greater good, but the idea isn’t new with him, and we’ll see a lot more of it in the days ahead.

  • What's next for Canada's Office of Religious Freedom?

    Robert Joustra

    This article was originally published in Embassy, and is reprinted with permission. It’s moving month in Ottawa’s capital, and we already have a few clues of what’s coming and what’s going. The Liberals are making good on campaign promises, but there are at least a few areas where it’s unclear if the Liberals will want to renovate, rebuild or just tear down.

  • On the Table

    Naomi Biesheuvel with Robert Joustra, Dan Postma, Ray Pennings

    We're renovating these pages in 2015 to open them up to you, our readers. Each month, we'll send out a question via our weekly emails, Twitter account (@conviviumproj) and our Facebook page (facebook.com/conviviumproject). The next step is up to you: we want to hear your opinions about the topics we're discussing in these pages.

  • Foreign policy makers: Suit up?

    Robert Joustra

    This announcement yesterday by Canada's Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, of a new directive, a "culture shift" in Foreign Affairs, is not a surprise: "Take off your tweed jacket, buy a business suit and land us the deal." Called the Global Markets Action Plan, it pivots Canadian foreign policy toward opening markets and making trade deals.

  • Missing Nigeria to Rehash Quebec

    Robert Joustra

    On Monday, John Ivison called out the 'normally garrulous' Minister Baird for his bashful dodge of the Charter of Quebec Values in a scrum following a meeting between Minister Baird, Ambassador Andrew Bennett, and Nigerian dignitaries. Ivison's grouse got more people agreeing: what about the hypocrisy of preaching religious freedom abroad, when we could use some of that gumption at home?

  • Democracies' Anxious Youth

    Robert Joustra

    Detroit is bankrupt. Foreign Policy is openly wondering whether, if Detroit were a country, it would qualify as a failed state. It's a near thing. There is talk of recovery in the country at large, but it's in hushed whispers, and confidence is low. It should be. The gerontocracy that has monopolized the world's largest economies continues to shell salvo after salvo of "business as usual" at a crisis that has exposed major fundamental flaws in the global economy, with the special audacity of criticizing today's young for their sloth, cynicism, and disaffection.

  • Reasonable Accommodation in Reverse

    Robert Joustra

    Religious freedom is making bigger and bigger waves in the stormy seas of Canadian politics of late. It's not just that an Ambassador was appointed in February, although that's a fair hat tip to certain concerned constituencies. There also seems to be a rise in cases, not only legal but also political, which revolve around this ambiguous, oft-debated right.

  • Three Cheers for Motion 382

    Robert Joustra

    In the world of parliamentary business, motions of commitment and encouragement can get lost under the weight of debate and controversy surrounding more binding efforts. But in politics, governance culture can be everything, and yesterday in the House of Commons Motion 382 took an important step forward to recognizing not only the high priority of religious freedom in Canadian foreign policy, but also religious literacy generally in its foreign affairs.

  • Gaming Out the Ambiguous Morality of Apocalypse

    Robert Joustra

    "So, can my son, in good Christian conscience, head-shot a zombie to save the town?" You can take that answer to the bank. Kevin Schut, professor at Trinity Western University, has written the book most of us want to read but are usually too embarrassed to write about, Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games.

  • All Hail the Twitterati

    Robert Joustra

    The twitterati are now an established class of pundits. Journalists and politicians are increasingly known for their 140-characters of sass, more so even than their editorials or full press releases. The Canadian International Council has launched a new annual roundup of the most influential Canadian foreign policy tweeters (#cdnfp), and magazines like Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy swell with sassy twitterati RT'ing the latest story, insight, or Game of Thrones meme.

  • Here Come the Wonksters

    Robert Joustra

    After the hippie, the yuppie, and the hipster, the cool people are now . . . wonksters? "The harsh events of the past decade may have produced not a youth revolt but a reversion to an empiricist mind-set," says David Brooks. He calls it a tendency to think in demoralized economic phrases like "data analysis," "opportunity costs" and "replicability," and a tendency to dismiss other more ethical and idealistic vocabularies that seem fuzzy and, therefore, unreliable.

  • I, for one, Welcome our new Ambassador of Religious Freedom

    Robert Joustra

    Several months ago I asked, "Where is our ambassador of religious freedom?," and that day has now come. At an event tomorrow at the Ahmadiyya Muslim community facility in suburban Toronto, invited guests and media will welcome the new Ambassador-at-Large for Canada's newly-minted Office of Religious Freedom.

  • Are Missionaries the Henchmen of Empire?

    Robert Joustra

    It's long been accepted that missionaries are the ideological henchman of empire—maybe not by the missionaries themselves, but by much of the public. Just last week the Globe splashed the Christian ministry Crossroads across its front page for its lifestyle beliefs, arguing its religious content contradicted Canadian values and so invalidated its work digging wells in Christian Uganda.

  • Why I am For an Islamic Law School

    Robert Joustra

    A few weeks back the Council of Canadian Law Deans fired an incendiary letter across the bow of the forthcoming law school by Trinity Western University. In their letter they argued that the rules of conduct and lifestyle at the Langley Christian university are incompatible with teaching law. In what may have been a rhetorical tweet, Adam Goldenberg opened the question wider still:

  • The Peril of Christian Humanitarianism

    Robert Joustra

    It is only just beginning to come to light that one of the most powerful forces for global good can be the formal and informal networks of faith-based and religious organizations. These are the people that are, in the words of CBC correspondent Brian Stewart, on the front lines. But what about the danger of increasingly partisan co-religious advocacy, the kind of perception bias and reality that make religious freedom detractors nervous, that such advocacy can become "primarily dedicated to protecting and promoting Christianity overseas." There is a peril to faith-based humanitarianism, argues Ziya Meral, precisely for these partisan reasons, which endangers the important, and often dangerous work, these groups do.

  • Needed for Rebooting Conservative Aid Policy: Less Fox, More Foxes

    Robert Joustra

    "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing" -Archilochus American foreign policy rock star Dan Drezner made an argument in the January/February edition of Foreign Affairs that what Republicans need in their foreign policy is "less fox, more foxes." In America, writes Drezner, the fall of the once mighty Republican foreign policy agenda is nothing short of a shock.

  • Pressing Upon the Imagination of the Cynical

    Robert Joustra

    @igollert - viewing Earth is THE favourite astronaut hobby. I think the coolest things are lightning, the Bahamas, volcanoes and aurorae. — Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) December 30, 2012 Canadians had their own guardian angel this holiday season in the person of Commander Chris Hadfield. Hadfield, currently living in space aboard the international space station, is Commander of Expedition 35.

  • Bring on that Foreign Policy Review

    Robert Joustra

    Ottawa's foreign policy community has long been divided on the effectiveness of formal, often long-winded foreign policy reviews. At the Canada International Council, Roland Paris is not a fan ("little more than an articulation of the government's current policy"), but Jennifer Welsh says it's long overdue.

  • Stealth Fighter Fever

    Robert Joustra

    Me thinks he doth protest too much. Pundits furiously tweeted at Andrew MacDougall in the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday night, as the government scrambled to insist that the F-35 deal has not been cancelled. A storm of incredulity, including a report from the Globe and Mail that the Conservatives will release estimates next week pegging the lifetime of the jets at more than $40 billion, broke on MacDougall's tweet that "cabinet has not yet taken a decision on the F-35." But boondoggle that this may appear, and there will be some red faces if it all turns out to be true, there are two distinct opportunities that can be salvaged from the wreckage of the F-35.

  • Wishing for a Secret Agenda

    Robert Joustra

    For Christmas this year, I'm wishing for a secret agenda—the kind everyone kept promising me was coming, only to disappoint me over and over. Now, we have "leaked" documents on this government's new foreign policy: so banal, so self-obvious, so redundant that it's possible some kind soul scooped them off the comatose cadaver of a once idealistic wonk.

  • The Devil's Advocate

    Robert Joustra

    Even economists are exhausted from presidential prognostications this week. Writing for his blog, Dan Drezner says our financial caste, normally simplistic-prediction happy addicts, are rousing in a cranky stupor even Peter Stockland could envy. Writing for the Financial Times Alan Beattie writes,

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