Stuart Murray

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Stuart Murray (born November 24, 1954) was a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He served as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba and leader of the opposition in the Manitoba legislature from 2000 to 2006. In late summer of 2009, Murray was named the inaugural Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was fired in October 2014[1] after his controversial inauguration of the museum, including having only 5 of 11 galleries open for viewing.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Murray was born in Lestock, Saskatchewan, and raised in Punnichy in the same province. His mother, Jean Murray, was a town councillor. He studied Science at the University of Manitoba, and transferred to Ryerson Polytechnical Institute to further his studies in Architectural Science. He later worked as road manager for the rock band Blood, Sweat and Tears, and in 1982 became media director for the Canadian Opera Company.

Murray began working for Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1985. He moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1989 after being named vice-president of the family-owned Domo Gasoline Corporation, and became its CEO and president four years later. Murray was also an organizer for the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party in the 1990, 1995 and 1999 elections, and supported Kim Campbell's successful bid to succeed Mulroney as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 1993.[3]

Murray was appointed to the board of Canadian National Railways in 1991, and served for one term.[4] He was a founding member of the Manitoba Entertainment Complex Group (MEC) in 1994, and chaired the successful World Hockey Junior Championship in 1999.[5]

Provincial politician[edit]

After eleven years in power, the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives were defeated by Gary Doer's New Democratic Party in the 1999 election. Gary Filmon, the party's leader since 1983, stepped down in 2000.

Murray soon emerged as the party establishment's preferred choice to succeed Filmon as leader.[6] Darren Praznik considered running against him, but withdrew several months before the convention because of fundraising difficulties.[7] Murray was acclaimed as party leader in November 2000, and won a by-election in Kirkfield Park shortly thereafter. On December 5, he was sworn in as leader of the opposition. He criticized the New Democratic Party's 2001 budget for increased government spending, and called for significant tax cuts.[8] He also argued the NDP was too close to provincial labour unions.[9] Murray held progressive views on some social issues, and supported the principle of gay adoption rights late 2001.[10]

Murray was criticized for hiring Taras Sokolyk as an advisor in 2002 without informing his caucus. Sokolyk had previously been implicated in a vote-manipulation scheme involving the Independent Native Voice party, and was largely discredited as a political figure.[11] Murray later spoke at a Winnipeg rally held in support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[12]

Murray led the Progressive Conservatives in the 2003 provincial election. His health strategy called for the government to purchase more surgeries and diagnostic services at private clinics, with the intent of reducing waiting times.[13] He also promised to reintroduce workfare laws and to cancel the planned University College of the North, using the savings for tax cuts.[14] Murray argued that provincial laws were skewed in favour of labour unions, and considered introducing right-to-work legislation.[15] His most radical proposal was to eliminate the taxation powers of local school boards.[16]

Gary Doer's NDP government was re-elected, and Murray's Conservatives slipped to 36.31% of the popular vote and 20 seats in the 57-member legislature. This was the party's worst showing since 1953. The NDP made historic inroads in south-end Winnipeg, while the Progressive Conservative Party's support was largely concentrated in the rural south of the province. A post-election editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press described Murray as "pleasant and even-tempered" but noted that he "did not make a deep impression on the public either by his work in the legislature or in the election campaign".[17]

Murray continued as party leader after the election. He recommended adopting Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for determining Manitoba's budget, and called for provincial whistleblower protection legislation.[18] He endorsed the new Conservative Party of Canada in 2004, and campaigned on behalf of Steven Fletcher in the 2004 federal election.[19] Despite concerns about Murray's leadership, the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives voted overwhelmingly against a leadership review in November 2004.[20]

In early 2004-05, Manitoba's labour-managed Crocus Investment Fund stopped trading and was forced into receivership after reports that it had misled shareholders and overstated the values of its assets. Doer's government was accused of improper oversight of the fund due to its ties to labour interests, and the resulting scandal initially threatened to damage the NDP's credibility.[21] Instead, it grew to encompass the Progressive Conservatives as well. Murray acknowledged that the Progressive Conservatives had received reports of irregularities at Crocus as early as 2002, but refrained from criticism after assurances from party advisers that the fund was in proper order.[22] These admissions may have prevented Murray from exploiting the scandal to his party's advantage; the NDP's popularity increased over the PCs increased in the summer of 2005.[23]

On November 5, 2005, a leadership review motion at the Progressive Conservative Party's annual general meeting received 55% support from delegates. Murray acknowledged the vote as disappointing, and called for a leadership convention to be held in light of the close result.[24] He announced on November 14 that he would not be a candidate to succeed himself, and that he would return to the private sector after a new leader was selected.[25]

Murray continued to lead the Progressive Conservatives in the legislature until the new leader was chosen. In late November 2005, he said that he would be willing to accept private MRI clinics in the province.[26] He did not attend the Progressive Conservative leadership convention in April 2006, which chose Hugh McFadyen as his successor.[27]

After politics[edit]

Murray resigned as MLA for Kirkfield Park on September 7, 2006. One day later, he was introduced as the new President and Chief Executive Officer for the St. Boniface Hospital Research Foundation in Winnipeg.[28] He held this position until 2009, and during this time, he hosted a weekly radio program on CJOB called "The Health Report."[29] In late summer of 2009, Murray was named the inaugural Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[30][31]

Table of offices held[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Bonnie Mitchelson
Leader of the Official Opposition in Manitoba
Succeeded by
Hugh McFadyen
Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
Preceded by
Eric Stefanson
M.L.A. for Kirkfield Park
Succeeded by
Sharon Blady

Electoral record[edit]

Manitoba general election, 2003: Kirkfield Park
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Progressive Conservative Stuart Murray 4,294 46.72 $20,826.03
New Democratic Dennis Kshyk 2,855 31.06 $4,760.05
Liberal Brian Head 2,042 22.22 $16,471.01
Total valid votes 9,191 99.73
Rejected and declined votes 25
Turnout 9,216 61.44
Electors on the lists 15,000

Manitoba provincial by-election, November 21, 2000: Kirkfield Park
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Progressive Conservative Stuart Murray 4,369 53.94 $9,841
Liberal Vic Wieler 2,158 26.64 $4,355
New Democratic Dawn Thompson 1,512 18.67 $4,291
Libertarian Dennis Rice 61 0.75 $0.00
Total valid votes 8,100 100.00
Rejected and discarded votes 25
Turnout 8,125 54.87
Registered voters 14,809

All electoral information is taken from Elections Manitoba. Provincial expenditures refer to candidate expenses.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Museum to offer visitor entry through special guided tours, while work on exhibits is completed Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Sept. 24, 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  3. ^ Carol Goar, "Not much passion - or bad blood", Toronto Star, 15 June 1993, A19.
  4. ^ Rosemary Speirs, "PM gives loyal Tories jobs left by senators", Toronto Star, 15 February 1991, A10.
  5. ^ Kelly Taylor, "Nite Out may take hit but backs MEC", Winnipeg Free Press, 9 November 1994, Entertainment; Jennifer Wells, "Jet Propulsion", Globe and Mail, 24 February 1995, P64; Scott Taylor, "Manitoba sets tourney record", Winnipeg Free Press, 27 December 1998, C1; "Who is Stu?", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 November 2005, A8.
  6. ^ Daniel Lett, "Murray dons Filmon's mantle", Winnipeg Free Press, 2 June 2000, A3.
  7. ^ Sean O'Connor, "Murray wins race of one to lead Tories", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 November 2000, A3.
  8. ^ David Kuxhaus, "NDP's spending 'out of control'", Winnipeg Free Press, 12 April 2001, A7.
  9. ^ David Kuxhaus, "Unions to getmore power, Tories say", Winnipeg Free Press, 31 May 2001, A4.
  10. ^ Helen Fallding, "Adoption rights for gay couples backed", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 November 2001, A5.
  11. ^ "Manitoba Tory Leader Stuart Murray may face leadership challenge", Canadian Press, 28 October 2005, 12:42 report.
  12. ^ David Kuxhaus, "Pro-war rally draws 1,000", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 April 2003, A4.
  13. ^ Daniel Lett, "Tories say boost private clinics", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 May 2003, A1.
  14. ^ Daniel Lett, "Murray plans to revive work-for-welfare law", Winnipeg Free Press, 20 May 2003, A3; Mia Rabson, "School on Tory hit list", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 May 2003, A1. NDP leader Gary Doer described this promise as spiteful. The Progressive Conservatives do not have a strong electoral support base in northern Manitoba.
  15. ^ Mia Rabson, "Murray takes aim at unions", Winnipeg Free Press, 30 May 2006, A3.
  16. ^ Nick Martin, "Tories' school plan sweeping", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 May 2003, B4.
  17. ^ "Editorial - PCs must plan ahead", Winnipeg Free Press, 10 June 2003, A10.
  18. ^ Stuart Murray, "Budget legislation needs toughening", Winnipeg Free Press, 15 January 2004, A13; Mia Rabson, "Tories seek whistle-blower legislation for Manitoba", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 April 2004, A5.
  19. ^ Alexandra Paul, "Fletcher nomination galvanizes Tories", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 March 2004, A4.
  20. ^ Steve Lambert, "Manitoba Tories reject call for leadership review at annual meeting", Canadian Press, 13 November 2004, 18:56 report.
  21. ^ Steve Lambert, "Manitoba government faces questions over its role in troubled investment fund", Canadian Press, 1 June 2005, 17:22 report.
  22. ^ Mia Rabson, "Murray explains Tory silence", Winnipeg Free Press, 1 June 2005, A1. Murray was also advised that some companies associated with the Crocus fund were donors to the PC Party.
  23. ^ for instance, Daniel Lett, "Manitoba NDP stretches lead over Tories", 27 June 2005, A3.
  24. ^ Steve Lambert, "Manitoba opposition leader may quit", Globe and Mail, 5 November 2005, Breaking News.
  25. ^ "Tory leader calls it quits", CBC Manitoba, 14 November 2005, 1:42 report.
  26. ^ Mia Rabson, "Sale takes a pass on fight over private MRI service", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 November 2005, A7.
  27. ^ Mia Rabson, "Murray plans to skip meeting", Winnipeg Free Press, 27 September 2006, A10. The Winnipeg Free Press later noted that Murray did not donate any money to the Progressive Conservative Party in 2006. See Mia Rabson, "Conservatives top NDP in 2006 fundraising", Winnipeg Free Press, 20 August 2007, A4.
  28. ^ Martin Cash, "Byelection possible for Kirkfield Park", Winnipeg Free Press, 9 September 2006, A5; Kevin Rollason, "St. Boniface Hospital and Research Foundation committed fundraiser", Winnipeg Free Press, 27 January 2007, B4.
  29. ^ "CEO on CJOB", St. Boniface General Hospital Research Foundation, 9 January 2007, accessed 30 October 2007.
  30. ^ Stuart Murray to head human rights museum. CBC Manitoba, Sept. 15, 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  31. ^ Appointment to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Dept. of Canadian Heritage, Press Release, Sept. 15, 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2010.[dead link]>


  • Some of Murray's biographical information is taken from a webpage formerly hosted by the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party (no longer available online). All electoral data is taken from Elections Manitoba. Expenditures refer to individual candidate expenses.