Irwin Cotler
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Irwin Cotler is the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, first elected in November, 1999. He is a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (2003-2006) and is Professor of Law Emeritus at McGill University where he taught law for 30 years. An Officer of the Order of Canada, Prof. Cotler is the recipient of 10 honorary doctorates. He currently serves as Liberal Advocate for Rights and Freedoms and is Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights and Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Human Rights.
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Entries by Irwin Cotler

The Worst Thing About the Rwanda Genocide Is That It Was Preventable

(4) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 7:35 AM

The world stands together on April 7 to recall and reflect upon the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, where one million Rwandans -- mostly ethnic Tutsis -- were murdered in less than 100 days. What makes the genocide in Rwanda so unspeakable is not only the horror of...

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Sochi Olympics: Remembering Sergei Magnitsky

(2) Comments | Posted February 6, 2014 | 5:10 PM

Today, on the eve of the Sochi Olympics, over 200 writers from around the world -- including Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, and Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya -- published an open letter condemning the Russian government's attacks on free expression, and calling on Russia to create "an environment in...

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Victims Shouldn't Bear the Brunt of Crimes

(5) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 4:38 PM

In his response to an article in which I am quoted about the victims' surcharge, Peter MacKay's unfounded -- if not preposterous -- assertion in his letter to the editor that I would rather see money in the hands of criminals than victims ignores the merits...

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Quebec, Passing Bill 60 Will Send a Shameful Message

(12) Comments | Posted November 19, 2013 | 10:42 AM

When Quebec Minister Bernard Drainville tabled Bill 60 -- formerly known as the "Charter of Values" -- he said one thing that is undeniably true: The bill, should it pass, will serve to define the Quebec in which we want to live together. Regrettably, by enacting this law, Quebec would...

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Geneva, Don't Forget Iran's History of Negotiating in Bad Faith

(5) Comments | Posted November 7, 2013 | 3:06 PM

The resumption of Iranian nuclear negotiations in Geneva this week has been accompanied by raised expectations for a prospective agreement. Indeed, a joint statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Minister and the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs called the first round of talks "substantive and forward-looking," while a...

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The PQ's Values Charter Suffers a Succession of Disapproval

(0) Comments | Posted October 18, 2013 | 5:02 PM

Quebec's Human Rights Commission has taken the highly unusual step of commenting on a government proposal, delivering one of the most forceful rebukes yet to the Parti Québécois' Charter of Quebec Values. According to the Commission, the values charter would represent "a clear break" with Quebec's...

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Testing Iran's Nuclear Charm Offensive

(3) Comments | Posted October 15, 2013 | 12:13 PM

Negotiations about Iran's nuclear program are set to resume this week in Geneva between the P5 + 1 countries (USA, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) and the new Iranian leadership -- arguably the most important diplomatic encounter in a decade.

This new round of talks takes place against...

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How to Judge Judges?

(2) Comments | Posted October 2, 2013 | 5:40 PM

How to judge judges?

The nomination of Judge Marc Nadon has raised important questions about the process used to select justices for the Supreme Court of Canada. Indeed, his appointment has led to charges of the politicization of the judiciary in the media, with some Canadians, rightly, wondering how our...

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Six Questions About Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

(18) Comments | Posted September 24, 2013 | 3:49 PM

In both his pre-election pronouncements and post-election promises, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has spoken encouragingly of "moderation," "reform" and upholding "the rights of the people...in a free Iran." Indeed, in the run-up to his speech Tuesday to the UN General Assembly, Rouhani has engaged in what this week's Economist characterized...

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Popularity Does Not Equal Legitimacy: Debunking the PQ's Charter of Myths

(150) Comments | Posted September 13, 2013 | 5:41 PM

By Irwin Cotler and Michael Milech

As expected, the provincial government's proposed Charter of Quebec Values contains a highly problematic ban on religious symbols or attire for all public sector employees. The Charter's supporters argue that it is necessary to protect the religious neutrality of the Quebec state, but that...

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Obama Must Make a Stronger Case For Syria

(2) Comments | Posted September 11, 2013 | 12:15 PM

US President Barack Obama has embarked upon what has been called the "most consequential week of his Presidency" following his decision to seek Congressional authorization for military action in Syria. Simply put, the President is facing an increasingly divided Congress and country at home -- and a skeptical if not...

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50 Years Later, MLK's Voice Still Resonates

(2) Comments | Posted August 31, 2013 | 1:34 PM

The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "March on Washington" - its full name was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom - is a poignant moment of remembrance and reminder for us all, of the universal struggle for freedom and equality still being fought today, and of...

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Our Response to Syria Must Be Effective, But Also Legal

(39) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 5:30 PM

Ottawa and Washington -- The pictures and video of children, women, and men murdered or suffering from neuro-toxic symptoms from the attacks in eastern Damascus on August 21 has sparked outrage around the world. While Western powers have now concluded the use of chemical weapons is undeniable -- and that...

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The PQ Wants to Force Religious Quebecers Into The Closet

(208) Comments | Posted August 23, 2013 | 5:22 PM

All nationalisms risk veering off course into intolerance. Fortunately, in Quebec, throughout the many years that we have wrestled with issues of identity and nationhood, some of the most ardent leaders of the nationalist movement have also been staunch advocates of inclusion. René Lévesque said that "a nation is judged...

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How Could the International Community Let This Happen?

(20) Comments | Posted July 22, 2013 | 12:41 PM

In a mocking rejoinder at the same time, U.S. and Russian officials decided that a prospective international Geneva II peace conference would not take place, thereby confirming the banality of mass atrocity -- and the attending inaction.

Just over two years ago in the Syrian city of Deraa, thousands of...

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Why Europe Must List Hezbollah as a Terrorist Organization

(31) Comments | Posted July 20, 2013 | 7:52 AM

On the first anniversary of the terrorist bombing of a tourist bus in Bulgaria, killing five Israelis and one Belgian, and wounding dozens more. Bulgarian authorities have confirmed, yet again, Hezbollah's responsibility for the terror attack -- with two of the Hezbollah operatives being Western citizens, a Canadian and an...

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Not Criminally Responsible? The Conservatives Are Not Interested

(27) Comments | Posted June 27, 2013 | 5:43 PM

Certain policies and pieces of legislation are inevitably divisive, and unavoidably create camps of passionate advocates and opponents. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing. Canadians have disagreed vehemently about some of the most important political projects in our country's history, and these grand national debates have...

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The Kind of Responsibility Canada Needs

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 12:14 PM

Tuesday night the Conservatives ushered a number of fundamentally flawed pieces of legislation through the House of Commons--including Bill C-54, the Non-Criminally Responsible Reform Act -- as part of the unanimous consent motion to adjourn for the summer.

While I oppose much of what was...

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The Iranian Election: Have the People Really Won?

(31) Comments | Posted June 16, 2013 | 7:55 PM

In elections that were heralded as being neither free nor fair -- with the candidates preselected for their loyalty to the Supreme Leader, and the voters suffering under massive domestic repression -- Iranians overwhelmingly elected a "moderate" cleric, Hassan Rowhani, as President, an outcome that has been hailed as a...

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Honouring the Lawyer in Solitary Confinement

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2013 | 9:06 AM

On Wednesday, June 12th, York University will confer an honourary Doctor of Laws degree on Nasrin Sotoudeh, the imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer now in her third year of imprisonment - much of which has been spent in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin prison - and who...

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