Canadian MPs Urge Passage of Organ Trafficking Bill in Honour of Late Rights Champion David Kilgour

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Lawmakers pay tribute to the former MP and renowned human rights advocate who died this week

MPs rose in the House of Commons on April 8 to table a petition requesting the passage of a bill combating organ trafficking in honour of David Kilgour, a former cabinet minister and renowned human rights advocate.

Kilgour, who had a long career in politics, passed away on April 5 from a rare lung disease. He was 81.

“This horrific practice was first brought to light by former member of Parliament David Kilgour,” said Conservative MP Pat Kelly. “It is a shame that he did not live to see its passage, but I certainly hope that this bill will pass.”

Bill S-223 is a Senate bill that seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking by making it a criminal offence for an individual to go abroad to receive an organ from someone who did not give informed consent to the removal of the organ. It would also amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to render a permanent resident or foreign national inadmissible to Canada if they engaged in activities relating to trafficking in human organs.

In 2006, Kilgour and Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas co-authored the ground-breaking report “Bloody Harvest”—later followed by a book of the same name—which investigated the Chinese regime’s forced organ harvesting from living Falun Dafa prisoners of conscience. The two said that based on their findings, they were able to confirm that the regime engaged in the heinous practice.

Following the publication of the report, Kilgour and Matas travelled to numerous countries around the world, holding panels and talking to lawmakers to inform them about Beijing’s persecution campaign and organ harvesting of Falun Dafa adherents.

Epoch Times Photo
David Kilgour speaks as Falun Gong practitioners demonstrate outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, against forced organ harvesting in China, on Nov. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Rod McGuirk)

‘Incredible Legacy’

While testifying before a Senate committee last year about Bill S-204, Bill S-233’s predecessor, Kilgour noted that many countries already have laws in place to combat organ trafficking, and said it’s “embarrassing” that Canada doesn’t yet have such legislation.

In the last Parliament, S-204 got the unanimous support of the Senate, but before it had a chance to be fully voted in in the House of Commons, an election was called and Parliament was dissolved.

There were several previous attempts to pass similar bills as private member’s bills, but they all died when Parliament was dissolved due to an election being called.

Introduced by Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, Bill S-223 completed its third reading in the Senate on Dec. 9, 2021, and had its first reading in the House of Commons on Dec. 16, 2021.

Tory MP Garnett Genuis, who has introduced Senate bills on organ trafficking to the House in previous parliaments, took the opportunity to recognize Kilgour’s work on the organ harvesting issue upon tabling the petition on April 5.

“I join colleagues on all sides of the House in recognizing the incredible legacy of David Kilgour, who passed away this week,” Genuis said.

“David brought this issue to my attention and to many people’s attention. He, along with David Matas, wrote the initial report on this issue. He has been a tireless champion on it and on so many other human rights issues as well.”

Conservative MP Damien Kurek said: “This bill has passed the Senate unanimously three times, and MPs from multiple parties have put forward a form of this bill over the past 13 years. The petitioners are hoping that it can be this Parliament that gets it done.”

In urging the passage of the bill, Conservative MP Stephen Ellis said that as a former family physician, the legislation strikes “the heart of the matter for me,” and said Kilgour was “a great champion not only of this issue but of other human rights issues.”

Tory MP Tom Kmiec said it was Kilgour “who blew the doors open on this practice overseas and made this [legislation] possible. … God bless him for his work and God bless him for everything he did for this Parliament.”

‘Maverick With a Cause’

Liberal MP John McKay also paid tribute Kilgour in the House on April 8, noting to his former colleague’s passion for human rights, unyielding independence, and strong faith.

“Everything in David’s life was animated by his deep Christian faith. The anti-politician’s politician, David ran for the Conservatives and won. He ran for the Liberals and won, and ultimately sat as an independent,” McKay said.

“He had little or no time for the compromises of politics, or prime ministers or party leaders. If a government hung in the balance over Darfur, so what? If he was banned by the government of China for advocating on behalf of the Falun Gong or the Uyghurs, so what?”

Kilgour was first elected as an MP for the Progressive Conservative Party in 1979, but was removed from caucus in 1990 after disagreeing with then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on bringing in the Goods and Services Tax.

He joined the Liberals in 1992 and served as secretary of state to Latin America and Africa from 1997 to 2002, and as secretary of state to the Asia-Pacific region from 2002 to 2003 during the government of Jean Chrétien.

In 2005, Kilgour left the Liberal Party over disagreements on principle and sat as an independent MP. He retired from politics in 2006.

In an article on his website titled “Why I Left the Party,” Kilgour cited the unwillingness of Canada to join the international effort to stop the Rwanda genocide and rights atrocities in Sudan as a reason for his departure.

“Nowhere is our foreign policy vacuum more evident than in Sudan, where more than 300,000 civilians have already perished in a disaster Romeo Dallaire has described as ‘Rwanda in slow motion,’” he wrote.

Dallaire was the former force commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda before and during the 1994 genocide.

Months after Kilgour’s call for action, the government of Paul Martin sent humanitarian aid to Sudan.

McKay said Kilgour’s dedication to human rights causes was backed by such courage and conviction that it spurred others to follow suit.

“David’s passion was so strong and his advocacy so effective that it was ultimately taken up by many others,” he said.

He said while Kilgour can be described as a “a maverick with a cause,” he also knew how to bring people together to “move agendas.”

“David lived by Matthew 22: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind,’ and ‘love your neighbour as yourself,’” he said.

“David had a diverse set of neighbours, and he loved them all.”

Isaac Teo

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Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.



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