Irwin Cotler, Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, was first elected in a 1999 by-election, capturing 92 per cent of the vote. He was re-elected in November 2000 with the highest percentage in the country.
On December 12, 2003, Mr. Cotler was appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He previously acted as Chair of Parliamentarians for Global Action (Canada) and Chair of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights. He was an Executive Member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a Member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and a Member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Mr. Cotler has served as Counsel to former prisoners of conscience Andrei Sakharov, Nelson Mandela, Jacobo Timmerman, Aleksandr Nikitin, KunLun Zhang; and Saad Edin Ibrahim. Maclean’s magazine referred to him as “Counsel for the Oppressed.”
An advocate against racism and discrimination, Mr. Cotler has served as Counsel to the National Coalition for Japanese-Canadian redress and the Coalition for Women’s Human Rights in Conflict Situations. He also served as Chair of the National Conference on Aboriginal Rights and the Canadian Justice System and Co-Chair of Canadian Helsinki Watch Group.
In 1992, Irwin Cotler was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is the only Canadian elected to the Paris-based Académie universelle des cultures (1993) and was the first recipient of the Justice Walter Tarnopolsky Memorial Medal and the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award.