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Track Irwin

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is justice.

Liberal MP for Mount Royal (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 41.40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Jewish Refugees December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we recently commemorated the 67th anniversary of the UN partition resolution, the first ever blueprint for two states for two peoples. Regrettably, Arab leaders declared war on the nascent Jewish state, and repressed and expelled their Jewish nationals, resulting in two sets of refugees—Palestinian Arab refugees and some 850,000 Jewish refugees, the forgotten forced exodus.

Canada can be proud that Prime Minister Paul Martin was among the first western leaders to recognize the plight of Jewish refugees, recently joined by all parties in the House. This past November 30, Israel observed its first annual national day of commemoration to mark the exile and expulsion of Jews from Arab states and Iran.

Regrettably, this forgotten exodus has been expunged and eclipsed from the international and Middle East peace and justice narrative for 67 years. It must now be affirmed, acknowledged, and acted upon in the interest of history, justice, and peace.

In this spirit of peace, I take this opportunity to wish all members a happy Chanukah, a merry Christmas, and a happy new year.

Political Prisoners December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the passing of Nelson Mandela, a historic role model in the struggle for freedom.

Indeed, this morning we held an all-party press conference, together with the Minister of Justice, to raise the cases of three political prisoners, each of whom embodies Mandela's courage and commitment and all of whom are heroic role models in their own right.

They include Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, imprisoned for his advocacy of democratic reform; Mauritanian anti-slavery leader Biram Dah Abeid, imprisoned in a country that has the largest percentage of enslaved people in the world; and Iranian Shiite cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi, who has been languishing in prison for eight years for advocating the separation of religion and state.

Mandela's emergence after 28 years in a South African prison is an enduring source of inspiration and hope, demonstrating the transformative impact of freeing political prisoners.

I invite colleagues in the House to join me in calling for the release of these three political prisoners to let them know that they are not alone, that we stand in solidarity with them, and that their cause is our cause: the cause of freedom.

Justice November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate Maître Suzanne Côté on her nomination to the Supreme Court. I remain concerned, however, that yet again the government has gone about filling a Supreme Court vacancy with a closed, unaccountable, unrepresentative approach with no selection panel, and no parliamentary or public participation.

In 2004, in concert with Parliament, I implemented a series of reforms that made the appointment process more transparent, inclusive, and accountable. Ten years later, the Conservative dismantling of that process is apparently complete.

What steps, if any, will the government take to reverse this regression, thereby respecting Parliament, the court, and the people?

Justice November 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Justice Louis LeBel is about to retire from the Supreme Court, but it appears that no appointment process has been put in place, no published protocol of consultation, no selection panel, no parliamentary review, no public engagement, no transparency and no accountability. Yet in 2004 Conservative members of the justice committee, including the now Minister of Justice himself, recommended “...there must be a public review of a short list of nominees before a parliamentary committee”.

Does the minister stand by his own recommendation for a public, parliamentary, accountable, transparent process?

Justice November 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in less than two weeks Justice Louis Labelle will retire from the Supreme Court, yet Canadians remain in the dark about what, if any, process has been undertaken to replace him. As was the case with the last appointment, it appears that there will be no published protocol consultation, no selection panel, no parliamentary review, no public engagement, no transparency, and no accountability.

Will the minister tell us what, if any, process has been initiated to fill the upcoming vacancy?

Petitions November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition today on behalf of Canadians who are concerned about the cruel practice of forced organ harvesting by the Chinese regime on vulnerable prisoners, including Falun Gong practitioners.

The petitioners call upon the government to take measures to stop the Chinese regime's crime of systematically engaging in forced harvesting of the organs of Falun Gong practitioners, to amend Canadian legislation to combat forced organ harvesting and to publicly call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

Having introduced Bill C-561 to further restrict organ trafficking, I am pleased to stand in solidarity with these petitioners.

Jerusalem November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, early this morning in Jerusalem, two Palestinian men wielding knives, axes and guns stormed a synagogue, killing four people and injuring eight, including one Canadian. This brutal attack is part of a recent escalation in terrorist violence. Indeed, on the day of the terrorist attack in this House, a terrorist attack killed a three-month-old baby in Jerusalem, and others since.

Moreover, this escalation cannot be divorced from the incitement to hate and violence and the glorification of terror propagated by much of the Palestinian media and leadership, where Palestinian authority officials have praised terrorists as “heroic martyrs”, declared that Jerusalem needs blood to purify itself of Jews, while Hamas celebrated the attack and President Abbas' party's Facebook page today announced that candy was being distributed in celebration of it.

I join with all hon. members in offering our heartfelt condolences to the victims of today's attack, while we call for an end to incitement, an end to the glorification of terror, an end to the terror itself, and a commitment to peace and non-violence.

Petitions November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a petition from Canadians who are concerned about the long-standing and widespread human rights violations in North Korea. After an exhaustive inquiry, the United Nations commission of inquiry has confirmed the existence of widespread and systematic crimes against humanity.

The petitioners urge Canada to adopt a human rights in North Korea act. Similar legislation passed in the U.S. and Japan has involved, among other measures, increased support and protection for North Korean refugees and for organizations promoting human rights in North Korea.

I join with the petitioners to sound the alarm on massive repression by the North Korean regime and to urge Canadian action.

World Prematurity Day November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the eve of World Prematurity Day, November 17, recognized internationally to promote awareness and related action on prematurity, as it is a leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity, affecting many families who are forever changed following a premature birth.

This day has special meaning to me, as I have two grandchildren who were born premature: Lavi, a 25-weeker who struggled valiantly but sadly passed away, and Ella, a 32-weeker and now a healthy five-month-old.

Today we salute these amazing little fighters who beat the odds. We salute their families and the team of neonatologists and NICU nurses who truly work miracles every day. Words can never describe the gratitude families have for them.

On this day, major monuments around the world and in Canada are lit up in purple, in tribute and recognition. It would be most inspiring and would bring strength to all those affected to see Parliament Hill lit up in purple by lighting up the Peace Tower on this day.

Redress for Victims of International Crimes Act October 20th, 2014

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-632, An Act to amend the State Immunity Act (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or torture).

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation that would amend the State Immunity Act to allow Canadian victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or torture to seek justice in Canadian courts.

At present the act immunizes foreign states and their officials from civil suits in such cases. The current state of the law is such that Canadians can use Canadian courts to enforce commercial contracts with foreign governments but not to seek redress for heinous crimes such as torture.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court recently found that Iran could not be held accountable for the torture, sexual assault, and murder of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi. The court made it clear, however, that the power to remedy this injustice rests with Parliament, and I trust that hon. members will join together to exercise this responsibility.

When I last introduced this legislation in the 40th Parliament with the support of members of all parties, it never came to a vote. Given my place in the order of precedence, that risks being the case once again.

I therefore invite the government to adopt this legislation as its own so as to ensure that Canadian law no longer shields foreign states that commit horrific crimes against Canadians while securing justice for victims of such crimes.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)