David William Kilgour, the son of a wealthy family from Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital, was well-versed in the comforts of life. He wore many hats and sat in many seats during his professional career.
He worked as the Secretary of State in the Liberal government, the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council in two Conservative governments, the Minister for CIDA, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, and the Minister of Transport, to name a few. He accomplished more than many statesmen put together.
Irwin Cotler, a former McGill University law professor who worked with Mr. Kilgour when he founded and chaired a parliamentary committee for Soviet Jewry, testifies that what David Kilgour did was both important and underappreciated.
“You might not see his name with the prominence and impact that he had if you look at the galaxy of those involved in the struggle of Soviet Jewry,” Mr. Cotler says, “but he was there, always in the trenches.”
This week we lost my dad, David Kilgour. He taught me about generosity, kindness, and curiosity. Thank you for all who have reached out with kind words, memories & support. Amidst a challenging time, it is nice to know how loved and admired he was by so many around the world ❤️ pic.twitter.com/bhBUCybxKY
— Hilary Kilgour (@HilaryKilgour) April 8, 2022
David was a member of both of Canada’s major political parties, and when he left the House of Commons as an Independent MP, he was one of the longest-serving members who gracefully left Colline du Parlement to serve other causes.
“During his 27 years as an MP, Kilgour established himself as a vocal supporter of international human rights causes,” writes CBC’s Nick Boisvert. He also showed that he was not afraid to take on his Commons colleagues, including party leaders.”
David Kilgour was, indeed, a “good troublemaker.” He broke with both parties over principles that were more important to him than partisanship. He was kicked out of the Conservative caucus in April 1990 due to his opposition to the goods and services tax.
David Kilgour, as Secretary of State for Africa and Latin America, visited Zimbabwe, where he became vocal in his criticism of Robert Mugabe’s farm invasion policy and pushed for increased international pressure. He was also a member of the Ukrainian election monitor delegation for the December 2004 federal run-off elections, which marked a watershed moment in the country’s history and paved the way for the Orange Revolution.
Tragic news that David Kilgour has passed away. He was one of Canada’s finest advocates for human rights in China. He fought for the rights of Uyghurs, Falun Gong as well as those w forced organ transplants that result in thousands of deaths per year in China. Thank you David! https://t.co/QpYzrRIOms
— Margaret McCuaig-Johnston (@M_Johnston1) April 7, 2022
Mr. Kilgour was the only Canadian MP in history to have served two major parties while remaining the most powerful independent candidate.
David Kilgour was also one of the few people who dared to touch on such a complicated and difficult subject as Iran. He was among his fellow Canadians to condemn human rights violations by the Iranian regime as co-chair of the NGO Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran. He wrote to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009, and the two would later share the stage at the Free Iran Summit in 2018.
He dedicated a special page on his website to Iran and the organized effort to liberate the country, a cause for which he fought valiantly until the end. In one of his last columns he wrote, “It would be naive and dangerous to write off the threats from Tehran as mere propaganda. Prudence and vigilance dictate that counterterrorism and counter-espionage activities against Tehran have to be intensified, while its network in the West should be dismantled and prosecuted. But that is not enough. The West must also put policies into place that will continue a trend of accountability and challenge the Iranian regime over its past and ongoing behaviors.”
My profound condolences on the passing of David Kilgour, former Secretary of State & MP in Canada,to his wife, Laura, family & colleagues.He will be remembered for standing by the Iranian people & Resistance, against religious dictatorship in the darkest hour of our nation. #Iran pic.twitter.com/sDIzgXNgwk
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) April 7, 2022
Most people come into the world and then leave, leaving only their mark on the lives of those around them. The impact of people like David’s lives and deaths, on the other hand, is incalculable. The world is a less good place without David, an outspoken, tireless voice of the oppressed.