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Thursday, February 13, 2014 | return to: news & features, international


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Rights activist Cotler to leave Parliament

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Irwin Cotler, a member of the Parliament in Canada and a prominent human rights activist, said he will not seek re-election.

“I have enjoyed the honor and privilege of serving my [district], Parliament, and the Canadian people as a whole for close to 15 years,” Cotler said in a statement.

Cotler, a former president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, was first elected in the Montreal district of Mount Royal in 1999 with 92 percent of the vote. He turns 74 in May; the next election is in October 2015.

His district is about 36 percent Jewish — the second highest concentration in Canada.

Cotler has spoken out frequently for Israel and warned often of nuclear threats from Iran. He chaired international groups such as the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran and the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism.

During his tenure as justice minister from 2003 to 2006, Cotler introduced Canada’s first human trafficking legislation, as well as legislation for the protection of children and other vulnerable people. He also initiated Canada’s first prosecution under the War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Act while spearheading the first National Justice Initiative Against Racism and Hate.

Cotler has served as counsel to numerous prisoners of conscience around the world, including Nelson Mandela, Natan Sharansky and Jacobo Timerman. — jta


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