David Kilgour, a former Canadian cabinet minister, longtime member of Parliament, and renowned defender of human rights, passed away on April 5 at age 81.
He was diagnosed with a rare lung disease that progressed quickly, his family said, adding that he passed away peacefully.
A lawyer by profession, Kilgour was first elected to the House of Commons representing Edmonton-Strathcona in 1979. Prior to that, he served as a Crown attorney in Manitoba, as well as a constitutional adviser to the Alberta government.
He initially joined the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative, but was expelled from caucus in 1990 after disagreeing with then-prime minister Brian Mulroney on bringing in the Goods and Services Tax.
He later joined the Liberal caucus, going on to serve as the secretary of state for Latin America and Africa, and later for Asia-Pacific during the government of Jean Chrétien.
He left the Liberal Party in 2005 over disagreements on principle, sat as an independent MP until 2005, and decided to not seek re-election in 2006.
Kilgour championed a bevy of human rights causes, including investigating and speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution campaign against Falun Dafa adherents.
In 2006, he co-authored with human rights lawyer David Matas the ground-breaking report “Bloody Harvest,” which investigated the Chinese regime’s forced organ harvesting from living Falun Dafa prisoners of conscience. The two said based on their findings, they were able to confirm that Beijing engaged in the heinous practice.
He and Matas won numerous awards for their work exposing organ harvesting in China, including the 2009 human rights prize from the International Society for Human Rights in Switzerland.
“We are really just among the ones to push the first dominos or deck of cards, and we wish the deck of cards had fallen years ago, but I am convinced that they’re going to stop doing [forced organ harvesting],” Kilgour said during a ceremony accepting the Friends of Falun Gong Human Rights Award in 2018 in Washington.
Following the publication of “Bloody Harvest,” Kilgour travelled to numerous countries around the world, holding panels and talking to lawmakers, informing them about the Chinese regime’s persecution campaign and organ harvesting of Falun Gong adherents. Most recently, he testified in the Canadian Senate last year as the upper chamber was deliberating a bill to combat organ trafficking.
Kilgour was active on many other human rights causes as well, including the Rwanda genocide and rights atrocities in Sudan and other parts of the world.
He authored a number of books, and has been the subject of several documentaries.
Kilgour is survived by his wife and four children.