David Kilgour to Speak at Wendt Center for Character Education Spring Lecture

Mar 28, 2012 | University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

Nobel Peace Prize nominee (2010) and human rights activist David Kilgour will serve as the keynote speaker for the University of Dubuque Lester and Michael Lester Wendt Center for Character Education's sixth annual Wendt Lecture on Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Stoltz Center. 

The theme of the 2012 lecture is China and the West: An Uncomfortable Connection.  The event is free and open to the public.

"To have a Nobel Peace Prize nominee on campus for a week is a distinct privilege," commented Henry Pitman, director of the Wendt Center for Character Education.  "David Kilgour's active involvement in International Human Rights Issues brings immediacy to issues that are often distant from us."

David Kilgour served as an elected member of the Canadian Parliament for a number of years and has been engaged in international human rights since leaving his role in government. He is co-chair of the Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran; past chair of the Latin America and Caribbean policy working group of the Ottawa branch of the Canadian International Council; Fellow of the Queen's University Centre for the Study of Democracy; and a director of the Washington-based Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD).

Elected to the Canadian Parliament in 1979, he was re-elected seven times, most recently in 2004. During his almost 27 years of service in the House of Commons, Kilgour held a wide variety of portfolios, including Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader, the Minister of External Relations, the Minister of Indian Affairs and the Minister of Transport.

Kilgour's career has been marked by tough decisions and having to stand up for his beliefs. In April of 1987, he was dismissed as Parliamentary Secretary by then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for criticizing his government's ethics and its treatment of Western Canadians. Three years later, after voting against the Goods and Services Tax, he was expelled from the Conservative caucus. Kilgour briefly sat as an independent Progressive Conservative before joining the Liberal Party in 1991. After joining the Liberals, he served as Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Committees of the Whole House.

Kilgour then became Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa (1997-2002) and later Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific (2002-2003). Kilgour has traveled to over 75 countries and represented Canada abroad on numerous occasions, most recently as a member of the Canadian delegation to Rwanda in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the genocide. In April 2005, he chose to become an independent Member of Parliament and did not stand in the general election of January 2006.

Kilgour continues to be active in issues of human rights and international concern. A recent book, Uneasy Neighbo(u)rs, co-authored with David Jones, a former American diplomat, discusses the relationship of Canada and the USA in the dynamics of state, industry and culture. Kilgour has also published with David Matas, Bloody Harvest-The Killing of Falun Gong for their Organs, and they were recently awarded the 2009 Human Rights Prize of the International Society for Human Rights In Switzerland for their work in raising awareness of state-sponsored organ pillaging in China.

"Apart from the evening lecture David will be engaging with multiple student groups and classes during his time on campus," stated Pitman.  "I have had requests from more than 40 faculty members to have him participate in their classes while he is on campus.  It is very evident that the message he brings is important to our faculty and students."

The Wendt Character Initiative was established in 2004 at the University of Dubuque by the endowed Lester and Michael Lester Wendt Character Initiative Fund.  The Initiative operates under the care of the Wendt Center for Character Education.  This Initiative promotes a campus culture that nurtures the formation of excellent moral character, and that encourages all members of the community to live lives of purpose. The work of the Wendt Character Initiative is centered in the University's Mission and values, a commitment to its Reformed Christian identity, and a sense of creative vocation in faithful response to the Creator.  This Initiative is part of the total educational experience of all University of Dubuque students through curricular and co-curricular programs.  Faculty and staff also participate in the Initiative through special programs during the school year.