Irwin Cotler Urges Action on Unresolved Justice Issues: Indigenous Rights & International Prisoners of Conscience

"The purpose of The Pursuing Justice Project is to improve Canadians' understanding of justice, diversity and inclusion through public discussions," explained Andrew Cardozo, Executive Director, The Pearson Centre. "Irwin explained that to pursue justice, one must 'feel the injustice,' which I think gave our guests new understanding of justice."

Indira Naidoo-Harris, MPP, Halton and former Minister of Justice, The Hon. Irwin Cotler, discussing pursuing justice.

Indira Naidoo-Harris, MPP, Halton and former Minister of Justice, The Hon. Irwin Cotler, discussing pursuing justice.

Excerpt from:

MarketWired
Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy
Published: April 1, 2016

In conversation with Naidoo-Harris, Cotler outlined his vision for a progressive and democratic justice agenda, guided by an overarching principle of equality. "We have to make the pursuit of justice, of human rights, not just a priority, but a matter of principle," asserted Cotler. "In kind, the focus of the justice agenda must be to protect the vulnerable."

Cotler emphasized the revolutionary impact of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and spoke to the importance of parliament in the process of pursuing justice. "In government, we are first and foremost parliamentarians, we are trustees of public good," asserted Cotler.

Cotler, who introduced an open system of consultation for Supreme Court judges in 2004 when he was Justice Minister, said, "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should restore the open system which the Harper government had dropped. "

In a review of the multi-dimensional, ongoing crisis with Aboriginal issues, Cotler exemplified the importance of acknowledging painful pasts with a Jewish proverb, "If you do not know what hurts me, you can't know why you love me."

In an age of anti-terrorism initiatives, Cotler discussed balancing human and civil rights and the ongoing challenges of pursuing justice for all in the volatile Middle East. Cotler welcomed Canada's return to the world stage and used the Rwandan Genocide to stress "the dangers of inaction in the face of injustice."