One of the questions I posed in this space a few weeks ago was: who will be the next big-name Jewish MP?
With apologies to Joe Oliver, Canada’s first Jewish federal finance minister, what I may subconsciously have been asking is who will be the next Irwin Cotler, now that the 75-year-old Mount Royal Liberal MP is retiring from politics after a 16-year run.
It’s not an entirely fair question, really, because it’s nearly impossible to measure up to a national icon.
With his naturally menschlich demeanour and his long list of achievements before entering politics, Cotler has been a staple of public life in Canada and internationally for more than 40 years.
Whether as a distinguished professor of international law at McGill University, president of Canadian Jewish Congress, a messenger who helped kick-start peace between Egypt and Israel, an advocate for Soviet Jewry in the 1970s and 1980s, or representing such high-profile political prisoners as Natan Sharansky and Nelson Mandela, Cotler has been a constant. Continue reading