Lloyd Axworthy (2001)

Longtime Liberal Member of Parliament Lloyd Axworthy is the recipient of this year’s Thakore Visiting Scholar award. Axworthy, who is now director and chief executive officer of the Liu centre for the study of global issues at UBC, will be honored at a ceremony at SFU on Oct. 2.

The award is co-sponsored by SFU’s institute for the humanities, in cooperation with the Thakore Foundation and the India Club of Vancouver. Axworthy will receive the award at a ceremony in the SFU Images Theatre at 7:30 p.m. The former politician will also participate in a workshop.

Created by the late Natverlal Thakore, a former member of SFU’s education faculty, the award honors individuals who show creativity, commitment and a concern for truth, justice and non-violence in public life, qualities that Gandhi valued. The events are held in conjunction with the celebration of Gandhi’s birthday on Oct. 2.

Axworthy will receive the prize for his work as Minister of Foreign Affairs. While in that ministry he created the Canadian Centre for Foreign Policy Development, bringing citizen participation into the political process through a variety of consultations focusing on peace-related issues and involving citizens and organizations across the country.

Axworthy’s initiative for a land mines treaty has also grown with nearly 140 countries signed on and $500 million donated for land mine removal. He frequently speaks out on the effects of war on women and children and against the possible use of nuclear weapons in NATO activity, urging the elimination of such weapons on both moral and legal grounds. Axworthy, a former political science professor at the University of Winnipeg, was elected to the Manitoba legislative assembly in 1973 and successfully ran for the federal Liberals in 1979. Except for a sabbatical in the late 1980s to venture to war-torn Nicaragua, for a first-hand look at the war’s impact, he remained in office until 2000. Axworthy held several portfolios, including employment and immigration, transport, human resources development and western economic diversification. While serving in his last post, foreign affairs, he found that traditional interests in national security and diplomatic relations are changing, noting that, “now, foreign ministers deal with issues of human security, terrorism, drug trafficking and public health, among others.” Axworthy grew increasingly interested in disarmament, threats of violence to societies, humanitarian intervention in conflict situations and protection of children. Through his new role at UBC, Axworthy is also examining issues related to nuclear security.

While the prize is being awarded for Axworthy’s activities in government, SFU institute for the humanities instructor Don Grayston says his future commitment to issues concerning peace and human security through the UBC centre make him a worthy award recipient.