David Kilgour R.I.P.

Written by  //  April 8, 2022  //  Absent Friends  //  No comments

A Canadian Profile in Courage is gone: A personal reflection on David Kilgour
By Beryl Wajsman, Editor The Suburban
The Hon. David Kilgour passed away in Ottawa today [April 6]. He was 81 but looked and acted as someone twenty years younger. He served 27 years in Parliament and rose to become Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa and then held the same post for the Asia-Pacific region. David was a dear friend and a leader in some of the most important causes of our time and my brother-in-arms in some of the highest points of my life. David suffered from a rare lung disease that took a serious turn in the past month. I was proud to publish many of his copious writings in The Suburban. I had just received a letter and an opinion piece from him last week filled with his usual sense of purpose and zest for life. He gave no hint that his health had taken a turn for the worst.

Despite his health, he travelled the world raising conscience and consciousness on China’s persecution of the Falun Gong. With attorney David Matas he published an exposé that was an indictment of China’s brutal policy of organ harvesting from dissidents for the profit of the state. And he was one of the first to bring to light China’s genocidal policies against it’s Uyghur Muslims.

But David was there in the front ranks of all human rights issues. When my Institute for Public Affairs staged Canada’s first Conference on Darfur, David was one of my keynote speakers together with Maj.Gen.(ret.) Lewis MacKenzie and Southern Christian Leadership Conference President Rev. Charles Steele,Jr. I was privileged to have David invite me to speak at the Rally for Human Rights in China together with The Hon. Irwin Cotler both outside the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa and in the Parliamentary Press Gallery. And just four years ago when Israel was facing the usual egregious attacks as it celebrated its 70th Anniversary, David was one of the first to accept to speak at my “Israel at 70” Conference which resulted in the greatest number of diplomats and elected officials of all parties standing on one stage in support of the Middle East’s only democracy in the history of Canada. David brought with him a 90-year old veteran and Holocaust survivor.

David Kilgour was fiercely independent. During his 27 years as an MP he was unafraid to challenge his Commons colleagues and even his own party leaders. He was first elected as an MP for Edmonton—Strathcona in 1979 as a member of the Progressive Conservative party. He quit the caucus of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1990 because he opposed the implementation of the GST. He joined the Liberals months later and served in his Secretary of State positions over a five year period starting in 1997 under Prime Minister Jean Chretien. In 2005, Kilgour quit the Liberals over Canada’s unwillingness to take part in a multinational effort to stop the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Ottawa eventually sent humanitarian aid to Sudan, a move attributed to Kilgour’s persistent and public calls for action. Kilgour served as an Independent MP in the House of Commons from 2005 until his retirement from politics in 2006. As an Independent, Kilgour held the balance of power in the House of Commons at the time of Paul Martin’s minority Liberal government.

He was the only Parliamentarian in Canada’s history to have quit the two major parties on matters of principle and still influenced policy as an independent. Where will Canada find such a Profile in Courage again? Where will I find such a friend? Rest easy dear David. You have run a noble course.

8 April
David William Kilgour
February 18, 1941 – April 5, 2022
(Ottawa Citizen) David Kilgour leaves a global legacy of courage, generosity and compassion, tirelessly wanting to help. He passed away peacefully on April 5th at the age of 81, surrounded by his family at home. He will be missed by his wife, Laura Scott Kilgour, his children Margot (Nathaniel), Eileen, Hilary (Ryan), Dave (Ella), Tierra (Vlad) and his six grandchildren, his extended family and countless friends around the world. He is also survived by his sister Geills McCrae Turner. He was predeceased by his parents David Eckford Kilgour, Mary Sophia Kilgour and his brother Donald Kilgour. Born in Winnipeg, David was a fierce advocate for equality from his early years. At 16 David studied Economics at the University of Manitoba and then law at the University of Toronto while working in the evenings as a Toronto Star journalist. A proud westerner, he practised law in BC, Alberta and Manitoba before becoming a lawmaker. A member of parliament for 27 years, he also served as Deputy Speaker and Secretary of State, always passionately defending his principles. Globally minded and intensely curious, he travelled to over 100 countries. After leaving politics he remained a vocal human rights champion who regularly spoke out against global injustice, and personally helped thousands of people. He loved writing and was a prolific author, with many books and articles published. A man of faith and integrity, he was committed to interfaith dialogue and human dignity. He taught Sunday school and served as an elder at Westminster Presbyterian church. Until his last days he loved meeting and helping others by giving voice to the vulnerable. Recently, David suffered from a rare lung disease that progressed quickly. The family are grateful for the incredible team from Bytown Palliative Medicine and Bayshore Healthcare for their care and support. In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to the Humanitarian Coalition www.humanitariancoalition.ca, the Ottawa Mission www.ottawamission.com or we invite you to donate to your local organization that supports Immigrants and Refugees with settlement services. A celebration of his life will be held in Ottawa early this summer.

Dear Friends of David,
We wanted you to know that David passed away peacefully in his sleep early morning yesterday (April 5). As some of you may have known, his condition progressed quickly. We are grateful that he is no longer in pain. Some of the highlights of the last few weeks were reading your messages with him and seeing his face light up. He enjoyed reliving those memories and remembering how important you have been in his life. He was not able to see all the visitors he had hoped.
David was surrounded by family love throughout the day and night as he drifted home. Although things have been difficult, we are really grateful for the incredible team from Bytown Palliative Medicine and Bayshore Nursing for their support.
In the early summer, we plan to have a celebration of life and will send details when available. We are writing an obituary for the papers on the weekend. In lieu of flowers, we will include suggested charities for donation. We welcome any photos or stories of your lives together that you wish to share.
with love,
Laura, Margot, Eileen, Dave, Hilary and Tierra

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