Appointments to Rights & Democracy Board of Directors

(No. 346 – November 13, 2009 – 6:00 p.m. EST) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced the appointments of David Matas and Michael Van Pelt to the Board of Directors of the Montreal-based International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy).

"Mr. Matas’s solid domestic and international experience in human rights and democratic development and Mr. Van Pelt’s experience in the field of public policy will undoubtedly benefit the work of Rights & Democracy," said Minister Cannon.

Rights & Democracy is a non-partisan organization with an international mandate. It was created by Parliament in 1988 to encourage and support the universal values of human rights and to promote democratic institutions and practices around the world.

For more information on the organization, consult Rights & Democracy.

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Biographical notes on the appointees follow.

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Biographical Notes

David Matas (BA, University of Manitoba, 1964; MA, Princeton University, 1965; BA [Jurisprudence], University of Oxford, 1967; and Bachelor of Civil Law, University of Oxford, 1968) has a private practice in refugee, immigration and human rights law.

From 1997 to 2003, Mr. Matas was director of Rights & Democracy. He was a member of the Canadian delegation to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (Stockholm 2000, Prague 2007, and Linz and Vienna 2008). He was also a member of the Canadian delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe conferences on anti-semitism and intolerance (Vienna 2003, Berlin 2004 and Bucharest 2007). From 1991 to 1993, he served as director of Canada-South Africa Cooperation and, from 1990 to 1991, as director of the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa in Canada. Mr. Matas has authored a large number of journal articles and book chapters on human rights and immigration issues.

Michael Van Pelt (BA [History], McMaster University, 1988) is president of the Work Research Foundation, as well as the founder and director of the Trade Corridors Initiative. He is also a consultant in land development and urban planning. From 1997 to 2000, he served as general manager of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and as general manager of Tourism Sarnia-Lambton. From 1995 to 1997, he was a municipal counsellor for the Town of Mitchell. Mr. Van Pelt has authored articles on trade corridors and other topics.