Portuguese Canadian of Azorean descent, Mário Silva, will chair the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research in 2013, the year Canada assumes the chairmanship of the task force.
Silva, a former Member of Parliament, has been active in Holocaust education for years. He was chair of the inquiry committee and vice-chair of the steering committee of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA). He also helped ensure the success of the 2010 Ottawa conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA).
The 2010 ICCA Conference produced the Ottawa Protocol, which called for leaders of faith groups to combat all hatred and discrimination, including anti-Semitism.
Silva, who lost his parliamentary seat in the 2011 election, said he was inspired to become involved in combating antisemitism because of his personal history as an immigrant to Canada from Portugal.
Established in 1998, the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research is an intergovernmental body whose purpose is to place political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance, and research both nationally and internationally.
Initiated by Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, the Task Force currently has 31 member countries. Membership in the Task Force is open to all countries. Chair countries hold the position for 12 months, during which time it hosts meetings for member states. Canada became involved with the organization in 2007 and was made a full member in 2009.
Mário Silva, 46, is a distinguished international legal scholar who served as a Canadian Member of Parliament from 2004 to 2011. He began his distinguished political career as a Toronto City Councillor (1994–2003) and acting mayor. In 2007, the President of the French Republic bestowed him the title of Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur). He has also been awarded the Order of Merit of Portugal and the Order of Rio Branco from Brazil.
Silva holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, a “Certificat de Langue Francaise” from Paris-Sorbonne University, and a Master’s degree in International Human Rights Law from University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Silva holds a Ph.D. in Law from the National University of Ireland, Galway.