Schreyer, Edward Richard

Edward Richard Schreyer, politician, premier of Manitoba, governor general of Canada 1979-84, diplomat (b at Beauséjour, Man 21 Dec 1935). Educated at United College and U Man he became the youngest member of the Manitoba legislature at age 22. He served there 1958-65 and in the federal Commons 1965-69. Returning to Manitoba politics, he swept to the leadership of the Manitoba NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY in 1969 and within months was premier. It was a Schreyer-dominated government: moderate, honest, mildly progressive. An advocate of bilingualism and a strong central government, he got along well with PM Pierre TRUDEAU. It was Trudeau who named Schreyer governor general, rescuing him from an unhappy period as Manitoba Opposition leader, 1977-78. He was determined as head of state to speak his mind and to democratize the office. He and his popular wife Lily made RIDEAU HALL more accessible to ordinary Canadians and travelled prodigiously. But a governor general's words, he discovered, were easily misunderstood and he was forced to tailor his speeches accordingly. A stiff, earnest public manner conflicted with his desire to be open and friendly, and made him an easy media target.

Schreyer caused political controversy by hesitating before allowing PM Joe CLARK to call an election in 1979, and by suggesting that he might have dissolved Parliament if Trudeau had attempted to impose his constitutional proposals unilaterally in 1981-82. Through it all, Schreyer indulged an intense curiosity about a wide range of subjects, from topography to native peoples. Before taking up his duties as Canadian high commissioner to Australia in 1984, he announced that until age 65 his pension would be directed to scientific research into problems faced by farmers and foresters. In Feb 1988 he returned to Canada as a private citizen.