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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

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)

Iran October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise to sound the alarm on the wave of wanton executions in Iran, the intensified persecution of the Baha'i and the imminent executions of three prisoners, including: the torture and threatened execution of senior Shiite clergyman Ayatollah Boroujerdi, known as “Iran's Mandela”, which is a shocking example of the massive repression that has prevailed despite the reputed moderation under Rouhani; the imprisonment of renowned Iranian physicist Omid Kokabee, who is languishing in prison on trumped up charges, has been denied life-saving medical care and whose release has been publicly urged by 25 Nobel laureates; and, the threatened execution of sexual assault victim Rayhaneh Jabbari, who was falsely convicted of murdering her assailant based on a coerced confession and a Kafkaesque proceeding.

I invite all colleagues to join me in calling on President Rouhani to cease and desist from this wanton execution binge and to release these three prisoners threatened with imminent execution, along with other political prisoners, such as the leadership of the Baha'i, and to end Iran's culture of impunity.

Justice October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would concur with the parliamentary secretary that Justice Gascon is a distinguished jurist and that there was consultation; however—and this is the main point of my remarks—there was no protocol of who was consulted; there was no establishment of a judicial selection panel; there was no parliamentary review; there was no public engagement; there was no accountability. In fact, the Prime Minister's Office, in response to my order paper question, acknowledged that it in fact was the one that suspended the process.

As the Supreme Court is the pillar of our constitutional democracy, the arbiter of federal, provincial, and territorial relations, the ultimate guarantor of constitutional rights, that Supreme Court deserves better.

Thus far, the non-existent judicial appointment process prejudices the court, Parliament, the public, and the whole integrity of this process to secure the candidates.

Justice October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise to follow up on a question that I asked on June 18 about the process to replace the hon. Justice Louis LeBel, who will be retiring on November 30.

At the time, the justice minister responded that “there has been no process undertaken to date”, but he encouraged me to “look forward to the future with optimism”. I therefore anticipated that the government would use the ensuing summer months to begin consultations and get the process under way, if not completed. As such, it was particularly alarming to learn upon our return to Parliament in September by way of an order paper question that, in the words of the minister, the Supreme Court appointment process is “still under reconsideration”, and that it remains to be determined how the government will proceed.

Today is an especially appropriate day to be raising these issues because today the hon. Justice Clément Gascon took his seat on the Supreme Court. I have a great deal of respect for Justice Gascon, but the process by which he was chosen, following the Nadon fiasco, was a clear regression to a closed, unaccountable, unrepresentative process without an advisory selection panel, without any parliamentary involvement, and without any public participation.

In fact, since the Conservatives took over in 2006, the government has been watering down the appointment process that I was proud to initiate as minister of justice in 2004. That process, which led to the appointments of the hon. Justices Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron, included, for the first time, a public protocol setting forth the people to be consulted and an inclusive advisory panel composed of MPs, distinguished members of the legal community, and eminent public persons who evaluated and recommended candidates.

The evaluation criteria were made public from the outset, and prior to the appointments being finalized, I took questions as minister from a parliamentary committee about, among other things, how these criteria were met by the nominees. These measures were intended as a first step toward a more inclusive, transparent, and accountable process. Indeed, the committee submitted a report with recommendations for further improvements, and that report was made public.

At that time, 10 years ago, it appeared that all parties agreed on the need for greater transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness in the appointment process. However, the government has since moved starkly in the opposite direction, to the point that earlier today, in response to a question from the member for Gatineau, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice indicated that the government envisages no role for Parliament in the process to replace Justice LeBel.

There are now less than two months until Justice LeBel will vacate his seat on the court. By the minister's own admission in his response to my order paper question three weeks ago, not only had the process to replace Justice LeBel not been initiated, but the government had not even decided what the process would be.

I would like to know whether that remains the case or whether the government has, by now, decided on a process. If it has, what does this process entail, what elements of the process have already occurred, and why has it been kept secret? If, on the other hand, the government has still not decided on a process, what is the cause of the delay and when will the process to replace Justice LeBel in fact begin?

Jewish Holidays October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the aftermath of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Jews ask forgiveness from those we have wronged and forgive those who have wronged us, while resolving to do good.

In the words of the great sage Maimonides, we should each see the world as divided into half-evil and half-good. Therefore, one good deed by any one of us tips the balance from evil to good.

During Yom Kippur, a central theme is the danger of evil speech. As my late mother put it, “a kind word can make a person's day, while an unkind word can hurt”.

Indeed, words can wound. In this spirit, I will soon be asking for unanimous consent for a motion establishing a “speak no evil day”, through which members can promote mutual respect and public civility.

As we are also on the eve of Sukkot, the Jewish Thanksgiving, which overlaps this year's Canadian Thanksgiving, I join with all members in giving thanks for all that we are fortunate enough to enjoy, and in resolving to do good, so that the coming year will bring even more cause for thanksgiving.