Edward Schreyer

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The Right Honourable
Edward Schreyer
Ed Schreyer (3).jpg
22nd Governor General of Canada
In office
January 22, 1979 – May 14, 1984
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
Joe Clark
Preceded by Jules Léger
Succeeded by Jeanne Sauvé
16th Premier of Manitoba
In office
July 15, 1969 – November 24, 1977
Monarch Elizabeth II
Lieutenant Governor Richard S. Bowles
William J. McKeag
Francis L. Jobin
Preceded by Walter Weir
Succeeded by Sterling Lyon
Personal details
Born Edward Richard Schreyer
(1935-12-21) December 21, 1935 (age 81)
Beausejour, Manitoba
Political party New Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Lily Schreyer
Profession Politician, Professor

Edward Richard Schreyer PC CC CMM OM CD (born December 21, 1935), commonly known as Ed Schreyer, is a Canadian politician, diplomat, and statesman who served as Governor General of Canada, the 22nd since Canadian Confederation.

Schreyer was born and educated in Manitoba prior to being elected in 1958 to the province's legislative assembly. He later moved into federal politics, winning a seat in the House of Commons, but returned to Manitoba in 1969, becoming leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party (NDP). The party then won that year's provincial election and Schreyer went on to serve as the 16th Premier of Manitoba. He was in 1978 appointed as governor general by Queen Elizabeth II, on the recommendation of Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau, to replace Jules Léger as viceroy, and he occupied the post until succeeded by Jeanne Sauvé in 1984. As the Queen's representative, he was praised for raising the stature of Ukrainian Canadians, though disparaged for his lacklustre vigour in exercising the role of governor general. In the ensuing decades after departing the viceregal post, Schreyer served as Canada's High Commissioner to Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu and then again ran for election to the federal legislature. Though he ultimately failed to win a seat, he became the first person to run for election in Canada after serving as the country's governor general.

During his time as Manitoba's premier, Schreyer was entitled to the accordant style of The Honourable, the same style he received again upon his appointment on June 3, 1984, into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.[1] However, as a former Governor General of Canada, Schreyer is entitled to be styled for life with the superior form of The Right Honourable.

Early life and youth[edit]

Schreyer was born in Beausejour, Manitoba, to German-Austrian, Catholic parents John Schreyer and Elizabeth Gottfried;[2] his maternal grandparents were Austrians who emigrated from western Ukraine. Schreyer attended Cromwell Elementary School and Beausejour Collegiate Secondary School before taking further studies at United College and St. John's College at the University of Manitoba. There, he received in 1959 a Bachelor of Pedagogy, a Bachelor of Education in 1962, a Master of Arts in International Relations, and in 1963 a second Master of Arts in Economics. Concurrently, for three years following 1962, Schreyer served as a professor of International Relations at St. Paul's College.[3][4]

St. John's College, University of Manitoba, where Schreyer obtained four degrees

Also while pursuing his post-graduate degrees, Schreyer married Lilly Schultz, with whom he had two daughters—Lisa and Karmel—and two sons—Jason and Toban.[3]

Political career[edit]

In the Manitoba election of 1958, Schreyer was elected to the Manitoba legislative assembly as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), representing the rural constituency of Brokenhead; being only 22 years old at the time, Schreyer became the youngest person ever elected to that chamber.[5] He held the riding until resigning in 1965 to run successfully for the House of Commons in Ottawa. However, Schreyer returned to provincial politics in 1969, and was on June 8 elected as leader of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba (NDP),[4] the successor to the Manitoba CCF. He differed in a number of respects from the previous leaders of Manitoba's NDP: from a rural background, and not committed to socialism as an ideology, he was able to win the support of many centrist voters who had not previously identified with the party. Also, he was the first leader of the Manitoba CCF/NDP who was not of Anglo-Saxon and Protestant descent.

Schreyer led his party to a watershed electoral victory in the 1969 provincial election and was subsequently appointed by Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba Richard Spink Bowles as his premier, in which position Schreyer served until 1977. The government during his premiership amalgamated the city of Winnipeg with its suburbs, introduced public automobile insurance, and significantly reduced medicare premiums. Following another election in 1973, Schreyer maintained his position as premier, though the council was this time less innovative, the only policy of note being the mining tax legislation implemented in 1974. Besides serving as premier, Schreyer was the appointed Minister of Finance between 1972 and 1975, and the minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro from 1971 to 1977. It was from those positions that Schreyer advised the Lieutenant Governor to authorise construction of hydroelectric works instead of coal and gas burning electricity generators, and also put forward legislation that simultaneously eliminated provincial health care premiums and implemented home care and pharmacare.[4] Schreyer sometimes favoured policies distinct from those of the federal New Democratic Party; in 1970, he supported Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's direction of the Governor General to invoke the War Measures Act in response to the October Crisis in Quebec, despite the opposition of federal NDP leader Tommy Douglas.

In 1977, Schreyer's New Democrats were defeated by the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba, under Sterling Lyon. Schreyer remained leader of the NDP in opposition, but resigned from that post in 1979, when he was approached with the offer of serving as the federal viceroy.

Governor General of Canada[edit]

It was on December 28, 1978 that Queen Elizabeth II had, by commission under the royal sign-manual and Great Seal of Canada, appointed Pierre Trudeau's choice of Schreyer to succeed Jules Léger as the Queen's representative. He was subsequently sworn-in during a ceremony in the Senate chamber on January 22, of the following year, making him the first ever governor general from Manitoba, and, at the age of 43, the third youngest ever appointed, after the Marquess of Lorne in 1878 (33 years old), and the Marquess of Lansdowne in 1883 (38 years old).[3]

As governor general, Schreyer championed women's issues, the environment, and official bilingualism. During his first year in office, he established the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, recognizing the efforts of Emily Murphy and others to ensure that Canadian women would be constitutionally recognized as persons. He instituted the Governor General's Conservation Awards in 1981 and, in 1983, created the Edward Schreyer Fellowship in Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto. In the same year, he presided over the first Governor General's Canadian Study Conference (which has subsequently occurred every four years).[3] Schreyer also carried out the usual duties of the viceroy, hosting members of the Royal Family, greeting foreign dignitaries, and presiding over award ceremonies and investitures. Notably, it was Schreyer who invested Terry Fox as a companion of the Order of Canada, travelling to Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, to personally present Fox with the order's insignia.[6][7] In exercising his constitutional duties, however, he caused controversy when he hesitated to call an election after his prime minister—then Joe Clark—advised that he do so. Schreyer also later suggested that he might have dissolved parliament at any point through 1981 and 1982, had the Prime Minister—by then a returned Trudeau—tried to unilaterally impose his constitutional proposals.[5][8]

Schreyer's "stiff, earnest public manner" worked against his wish to connect with people in a friendly way, and he was subsequently a target for the media.[5] The press generally applauded the announcement of Schreyer's successor, believing Sauvé's elegance and refined nature made her well suited for the role of the Queen's representative. In Maclean's, Carol Goar compared Sauvé to Schreyer's performance, stating that "she is expected to restore grace and refinement to Government House after five years of Edward Schreyer's earnest Prairie populism and lacklustre reign."

Post viceregal career[edit]

The High Commission of Canada in Canberra, where Schreyer served as High Commissioner to Australia between 1984 and 1988

Upon retirement from the governor generalcy in 1984, Schreyer announced that he would donate his pension to the environmental Canadian Shield Foundation;[5] unlike other former viceroys, he clearly had no intent of removing himself from political and diplomatic life, as he was on the same day he ceased to be governor general appointed by his viceregal successor as the High Commissioner to Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu for Her Majesty's Government in Canada.[9] He held those positions until 1988, at which time he returned to Winnipeg.

On his repatriation, Schreyer was employed as a national representative of Habitat for Humanity, an honorary director of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, and an honorary advisor to the Canadian Foundation for the Preservation of Chinese Cultural and Historical Treasures, as well as becoming a founding member of the Winnipeg Library Foundation. Starting in 1989, he also acted as a guest professor at universities around North America and Europe, lecturing on matters relating to resource geography, energy economics, and environmental impact.[4] Further, on November 1, 2002,[4] Schreyer was appointed as the Chancellor of Brandon University, replacing Kevin Kavanagh,[10] and was subsequently re-elected as to the position by the university in early 2005 for a term that ended on October 31, 2008.

Political return[edit]

Schreyer returned to politics for the 1999 election in Manitoba, offering his support to the NDP, by then led by Gary Doer. Schreyer delivered strong criticisms of the Progressive Conservative (PC) government of Gary Filmon and made headlines by accusing the PCs of spreading false information about the criminal record of Tom Nevakshonoff, the NDP's candidate in Interlake. These comments had not been approved in advance by the NDP, but Schreyer's position was vindicated in 2001, when local PC organizer Heather Campbell-Dewar pleaded guilty to defaming Nevakshonoff's character and making a false or misleading statement to the police. Schreyer then offered his support to, but was not actively involved in the campaign of, Bill Blaikie, during the latter's bid to become leader of the federal New Democratic Party in 2002 and 2003.[citation needed]

Schreyer ran in the 2006 federal election as the NDP candidate for the riding of Selkirk—Interlake.[11] Had the 70-year-old Schreyer won, it would have marked the first time a former governor general had been elected to the Canadian House of Commons; previously, former Lieutenant Governors had been called to the Senate to sit as party members, and some former Governors General who hailed from the United Kingdom returned there to sit with party affiliations in the House of Lords, sometimes even serving in cabinet.[n 1] But Schreyer lost to Conservative incumbent James Bezan, receiving 37% of the vote to Bezan's 49%.[12] Earlier comments Schreyer had made describing homosexuality as an "affliction" were raised by his electoral opponents in the campaign, as the NDP by that time supported same-sex marriage.[13] Without apologising for the remarks, Schreyer said he supported same-sex marriage as the existing legislation did not force religious institutions to marry same-sex couples, and added: "It was 19 years ago, and I didn't—even for a split second—suggest that there was no need to ensure that there was equal protection of the law with respect to the people who are homosexual. In fact, I defy anyone to suggest otherwise."[citation needed] Federal NDP leader Jack Layton defended Schreyer, observing that many people's views on the subject have changed in the last twenty years.[citation needed]

Schreyer also waded into the federal parliamentary dispute that took place from late 2008 into early 2009, wherein the members of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition threatened to revoke their confidence in the sitting prime minister, Stephen Harper. Schreyer said: "any group that presumes to govern must be willing to face and seek the confidence of Parliament [sic], and it mustn't be evaded and it mustn't be long avoided. I can't put it any more succinctly than that... I must come back to your use of the words, 'to duck a confidence vote'... that must simply not be allowed to happen."[14]

Titles, styles, honours, and arms[edit]


  • December 21, 1935 – July 15, 1969: Mr Edward Schreyer
  • July 15, 1969 – November 24, 1977: The Honourable Edward Schreyer
  • November 24, 1977 – January 22, 1979: Mr Edward Schreyer
  • January 22, 1979 – May 14, 1984: His Excellency The Right Honourable Edward Schreyer, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada
  • May 14, 1984 – February 18, 1988: His Excellency The Right Honourable Edward Schreyer, High Commissioner to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu for Her Majesty's Government in Canada
  • February 18, 1988 – : The Right Honourable Edward Schreyer


Order of Canada (CC) ribbon bar.svg
Order of Military Merit (Canada) ribbon (CMM).jpg VOStJ ribbon.png Order of Manitoba ribbon.png
Canada100 ribbon.png QEII Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Canada125 ribbon.png
QEII Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png CD-ribbon.png

Viceregal styles of
Edward Schreyer
Crest of the Governor-General of Canada.svg
Reference style His Excellency the Right Honourable
Son Excellence le très honorable
Spoken style Your Excellency
Votre Excellence
Alternative style Sir

Honorary military appointments[edit]

Honorific eponyms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ In 1952, the Earl Alexander of Tunis resigned as Governor General of Canada to accept an appointment as Minister of Defence in the British Cabinet chaired by Winston Churchill. The Marquess of Lansdowne and The Duke of Devonshire both served in British Cabinets following their viceregal careers; Lansdowne also went on to serve for over a decade as leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords.


  1. ^ Privy Council Office (October 30, 2008). "Information Resources > Current Chronological List of Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada > 1981 – 1990". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Ed Schreyer". Archives and Special Collections. University of Manitoba. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Office of the Governor General of Canada. "History > Former Governors General > Canadian Governors General". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "The Right Honourable Edward R. Schreyer Re-Elected as Chancellor" (Press release). Brandon University. February 2, 2005. Archived from the original on February 19, 2006. Retrieved March 10, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d Hillmer, Norman, "Biography > Governors General of Canada > Schreyer, Edward Richard", in Marsh, James H., The Canadian Encyclopedia, Toronto: Historica Foundation of Canada, retrieved March 8, 2009 
  6. ^ "The Terry Fox Foundation > Terry Fox > Honours For Terry". Terry Fox Foundation. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  7. ^ "CBC Digital Archives > Sports > Exploits > Terry Fox, C.C.". CBC. April 10, 2002. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Nations > Canada > Governors-General > Schreyer, Edward Richard". Archontology.org. Retrieved March 8, 2009. 
  9. ^ Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. "About the Department > Canadian Heads of Posts Abroad from 1880 > Australia". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Brandon University campus courtyard named in honour of Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Kevin Kavanagh and Els Kavanagh" (Press release). Brandon University. October 5, 2006. Retrieved March 8, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Ed Schreyer will run for the NDP in Manitoba". CTV. December 15, 2005. Retrieved March 9, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Decision 2006 > Live election results". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on September 24, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Schreyer supports legal rights for gay spouses". CTV. December 18, 2005. Retrieved March 9, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Don't let Harper 'duck a confidence vote': former GG". CTV. December 4, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2008. 
  15. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Order of Canada". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Elizabeth II (2013), The Constitution of the Order of Canada, Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved May 17, 2013 
  17. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Order of Military Merit". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  18. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Insignia Worn by the Governor General". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  19. ^ Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. "Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba The Honourable Philip S. Lee, C.M., O.M. > Awards > Order of Manitoba > Order of Manitoba Official Register". Queen's Printer for Manitoba. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  20. ^ Photograph of Mr. Schreyer wearing his medals http://gg.ca/gallery.aspx?ID=11566#
  21. ^ "Arms of Past and Present Canadian Governors General". Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. Retrieved March 12, 2009. 
  22. ^ a b c "Arms of Past and Present Canadian Governors General > SCHREYER, The Rt. Hon. Edward, CC, CMM, CD, PC". Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. Retrieved March 5, 2009. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Jules Léger
Governor General of Canada
January 22, 1979 – May 14, 1984
Succeeded by
Jeanne Sauvé
Political offices
Provincial Government of Edward Schreyer
Preceded by
Walter Weir
Premier of Manitoba
July 15, 1969 – November 24, 1977
Succeeded by
Sterling Lyon
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Eric Stefanson, Sr.
Member of Parliament for Selkirk
June 25, 1968 – June 25, 1969
Succeeded by
Doug Rowland
Preceded by
Joe Slogan
Member of Parliament for Springfield
November 8, 1965 – June 25, 1968
Succeeded by
Electoral district abolished
Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
Preceded by
New electoral district
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
for Rossmere

June 25, 1969 – January 22, 1979
Succeeded by
Vic Schroeder
Preceded by
New electoral district
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
for Brokenhead

June 16, 1958 – November 8, 1965
Succeeded by
Sam Uskiw
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Raymond Cecil Anderson
Canadian High Commissioner to Australia,
Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu

May 14, 1984 – February 18, 1988
Succeeded by
Robert Kilpatrick
Academic offices
Preceded by
Kevin Kavanagh
Chancellor of Brandon University
November 1, 2002 – October 31, 2008
Succeeded by
Henry Champ
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Beverley McLachlin
as chief justice of Canada
Canadian order of precedence Succeeded by
Adrienne Clarkson
as former governor general