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Honorary degree citation - David Matas

By: Stephen Scheinberg, June 1996

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honor to present to you David Matas a distinguished immigration and refugee lawyer who is internationally recognized for his continuing contribution to the defense of civil rights and liberties. Mr. Matas has been practicing law in the areas of human rights, immigration and refugees since 1979.

I had the pleasure of knowing him through his work in the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada. He has served our organization as National Chairman and as Senior Counsel and led our struggles against antisemitism and racism. Mr. Matas has spearheaded our efforts to prosecute or deport Nazi war criminals in Canada.

He received his BA from the University of Manitoba in 1964, an MA from Princeton University in 1965, and a BA (Juris) in 1967 and BCL in 1968 from Oxford University. He was called to the Bar of Manitoba in 1971. He lectured in constitutional law at McGill University from 1972 to 1973 and has taught immigration law at the University of Manitoba for many years.

Au chapitre de la défense des droits de la personne, ses activités sont aussi innombrables que remarquables. Coordonnateur juridique du secrétariat canadien anglophone de Amnesty International depuis 1980, M. Matas a aussi été directeur de l'International Defense and Aid Fund au Canada et de Canada-South Africa Cooperation. Président du Conseil canadien pour les réfugiés de 1991 à 1995 et vice-président de la section canadienne de la Commission internationale de juristes depuis 1994, il est actuellement coprésident canadien du Helsinki Watch Group, organisme qui veille au respect des droits de la personne. Je peux témoigner de l'énorme respect qu'il inspire lorsqu'il comparaît devant les commissions parlementaires ou les réunions du Cabinet.

A Board member on the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties from 1983 to 1987, he recently received an award for outstanding service from this association. He has also served as a member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, and as a member of the task force on immigration practices and procedures. He has written extensively on immigrant and human rights issues. His most recent book is titled No More: The Battle Against Human Rights Violations (1994).

Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege and a personal pleasure to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, David Matas, so that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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