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1 April, 2016
Irwin Cotler honored





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Irwin Cotler honored


Dave Gordon - Friday, 1 April, 2016

Irwin Cotler was honored at an event for his lifelong human rights activism, where attendees learned how Jewish values drove his career in pursuing justice.

“My father used to say to me: the pursuit of justice is equal to all the commandments combined,” the former Montreal MP recalled at the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy’s March 31 event at Toronto’s Omni King Edward Hotel.

Among the introductory remarks were from former prime ministers John Turner, and via video Paul Martin.

As well as serving as Mount Royal’s Liberal MP from 1999 to 2015, Cotler served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General from 2003 to 2005.

In dialog with Indira Naidoo-Harris, Liberal Ontario parliamentarian for Halton, Ont., Cotler spoke about a ten-year old idea that never bore fruit, wherein justice ministers from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt all agreed to convene with Canada’s justice minister, in Canada, to foster dialog. A “justice summit” he dubbed it, “which I hoped would have a peace dividend.”

It is his expressed desire to request the Trudeau government to revive the concept.

As an international human rights lawyer, Cotler served as counsel to many high profile political prisoners, including South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, and Soviet Jewish activist Natan Sharansky, who later became a member of Knesset and author.

Both prisoners were beacons of “hope and the vision and the inspiration,” as “two of the great human rights struggles of the second half of the 20th century,” Cotler remarked.

The release of political prisoners, he added, is “such an overriding (Jewish) commandment, that you’re allowed to breach the Sabbath,” to free them.

Cotler’s next undertaking is building the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights in Montreal, which, among many of its objectives, he told LandmarkReport, is “promoting human dignity; combating racism, hatred and anti-Semitism, and defending political prisoners.”

The host of the event, the Pearson Centre, touts itself as a centrist think tank, addressing policy issues related to justice, health and social services, and whose goal it is “to engage Canadians in an active dialogue about a progressive future for Canada.”

The event also served to launch the Pearson Centre’s new Pursuing Justice Project, aimed to “advance justice, diversity and inclusion.”

Below, Dave interviews Irwin Cotler about his new initiative, Nazi war criminals and speaking out against genocide:

Cotler interview

Hear a sample of the event's honoree, speaking on stage:

Cotler stage talk

And finally, Dave interviews the Rt. Hon. John Turner for a second time, at the Pearson Centre event, asking him his thoughts on Justin Trudeau, and how to minimize political discord:

John Turner 2016

 

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