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Edward Richard Schreyer (born 21 December 1935) is a Canadian politician and statesman who, until 14 May 1984, served as the Governor General of Canada. He was appointed as such by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on the recommendation of then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, to replace Jules Léger as viceroy. The official announcement of the appointment was made on 28 December 1978, and Schreyer's investiture as the 22nd governor general since Confederation took place on 22 January 1979.

Schreyer was born and educated in Manitobamarker prior to being elected to the province's legislative assembly in 1958. He later moved into federal politics, winning a seat in the Canadian 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 was called upon to act as Premier of Manitoba. He was appointed as the Canadian viceroy in early 1979, and was praised for raising the stature of Ukrainian Canadians, though disparaged for his lacklustre vigour in exercising the role of governor general. Decades after being released from the Queen's service, Schreyer again ran for election to the federal legislature; though he ultimately failed to win the seat, he became the first ever person to run for election in Canada after serving as the country's governor.

While he served as Manitoba's premier, Schreyer was entitled to the accordant style of The Honourable, the same style he received again upon his appointment into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on 3 June 1984. 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

Schreyer was born in Beausejour, Manitobamarker, to German-Austrian Catholic parents (his maternal grandparents were Austrians who emigrated from western Ukrainemarker), and attended Cromwell Elementary School and Beausejour Collegiate Secondary School. He then took further studies at United College, and St. John's Collegemarker at the University of Manitobamarker, where he received a Bachelor of Pedagogy in 1959, a Bachelor of Education in 1962, a Master of Arts in International Relations, and a second Master of Arts in Economics in 1963. Concurrently, for three years following 1962, Schreyer served as a professor of International Relations at St. Paul's College.

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.

Political career

In the Manitoba election of 1958, Schreyer was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba as a member of the CCF, representing the rural constituency of Brokenhead; as such, and at age 22, he became the youngest person ever elected to that chamber. He held the riding until 1965, when he resigned to run successfully for the House of Commons in Ottawa. However, Schreyer returned to provincial politics in 1969, and was on 8 June elected as leader of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba (NDP), 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, given his background, 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 Alberta Grant MacEwan as Premier of Manitoba, in which position Schreyer served until 1977. The government during his premiership amalgamated the city of Winnipegmarker 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 also 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. Schreyer sometimes favoured policies distinct from those of the federal New Democratic Party: In 1970, he supported Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's decision to advise the Governor General to invoke the War Measures Act in response to the October Crisis in Quebecmarker, despite the opposition of federal NDP leader Tommy Douglas.

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

Governor generalship

It was announced from the Prime Minister's office on 28 December 1978 that Elizabeth II had, by commission under the royal sign-manual and signet, approved the recommendation of her Canadian prime minister, Trudeau, to appoint Schreyer as her representative. He was subsequently sworn-in during a ceremony in the Senate chamber on 22 January 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 John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, in 1878 (33 years old), and Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, Marquess of Lansdowne, in 1883 (38 years old).

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 Ukrainianmarker Studies at the University of Torontomarker. Also in 1983, he presided over the first Governor General's Canadian Study Conference (which has subsequently occurred every four years). 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 Coquitlammarker, British Columbiamarker, to personally present Fox with the order's insignia. 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 at that time a returned Trudeau tried to unilaterally impose his constitutional proposals.

Still, his "stiff, earnest public manner" worked against his wish to connect with people in a friendly way, and he was subsequenly a target for the media. After the announcement of Schreyer's successor, the press generally applauded the fact that Jeanne Sauvé would be the new governor general, believing her elegance and refined nature made her well suited for the viceregal role. 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

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

On his repatriation, Schreyer was employed as a national representative of the non-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity, an honorary director of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, and an honorary advisor to the Canadian Foundation for the Preservation of Chinesemarker Cultural and Historical Treasures, as well as 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. Further, on 1 November 2002, Schreyer was appointed as the Chancellor of Brandon Universitymarker, replacing Kevin Kavanagh, and was subsequently re-elected as to the position by the university in early 2005 for a term that ended on 31 October 2008.

Political return

It was during the 1999 election in Manitoba that Schreyer returned to the political arena, 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, and were regarded at the time as very surprising, 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.

Schreyer ran for the NDP in the riding of Selkirk—Interlake in the 2006 federal election. 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 from the United Kingdom returned there to sit with party affiliations in the House of Lordsmarker, sometimes even serving in Cabinet. But Schreyer lost to Conservative incumbent James Bezan, receiving 37% of the vote to Bezan's 49%. 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. 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." Federal NDP leader Jack Layton defended Schreyer, observing that many people's views on the subject have changed in the last twenty years.

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."

Titles, styles, honours, and arms


  • 21 December 1935 15 July 1969: Mister Edward Schreyer
  • 15 July 1969 24 November 1977: The Honourable Edward Schreyer
  • 24 November 1977 22 January 1979: Mister Edward Schreyer
  • 22 January 1979 14 May 1984: His Excellency The Right Honourable Edward Schreyer, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada
  • 14 May 1984 18 February 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
  • 18 February 1988 : The Right Honourable Edward Schreyer

Schreyer's style and title as governor general was, in full, and in English: His Excellency The Right Honourable Edward Richard Schreyer, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada, and in French: Son Excellence le très honorable Edward Richard Schreyer, chancelier et compagnon principal de l'ordre du Canada, chancelier et commandant de l'ordre du mérite militaire, gouverneur général et commandant en chef du Canada. It should be noted that, for Schreyer, Commander-in-Chief was strictly a title, and not a position that he held; the actual commander-in-chief (who can also be, and is, called such) is perpetually the monarch of Canada.

In his post-viceregal life, Schreyer's style and title is, in English: The Right Honourable Edward Richard Schreyer, Companion of the Order of Canada, Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Member of the Order of New Brunswick, and in French: le très honorable Edward Richard Schreyer, compagnon de l'ordre du Canada, commandant de l'ordre du mérite militaire.


Ribbon bars of Edward Schreyer




Honorary military appointments

Honorific eponyms



See also


  1. Winnipeg Free Press, 18 June 2002
  2. National Post, 19 December 2005
  3. Broadcast News, 17 December 2005.


  1. Winnipeg Free Press, 18 June 2002
  2. National Post, 19 December 2005
  3. Broadcast News, 17 December 2005.

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