Israel Harold (Izzy) Asper

Israel Harold (Izzy) Asper, businessman, broadcaster, lawyer, politician (b at Minnedosa, Man 11 Aug 1932, d at Winnipeg, Man 7 Oct 2003). Izzy Asper earned a BA (1953) and LLB (1957) from the University of Manitoba before being called to the Bar in 1957. He founded the Winnipeg law firm Asper, Freedman and Company in 1959 (now Buchwald, Asper and Henteleff, Barristers), and returned to the University of Manitoba to earn an LLM in 1964. Specializing in taxation law, he also became a nationally syndicated columnist on taxation for the Globe and Mail (1966-1977).

In 1970 Asper was elected leader of the moribund provincial Liberal Party, was elected an MLA, then lost the 1973 election to the NDP. He quit politics in 1975 and bought KCND, a television station in Pembina, North Dakota, had its transmitter and studios shipped across the border, and licensed it in Canada as CKND. Asper then acquired the fledgling Global TV Network in Ontario and laid the foundation for the Winnipeg-based Canwest Global Communications, which later acquired stations in Québec and British Columbia. in 1991 he acquired New Zealand's TV3, and the following year, Australia's Network 10. In 1993 he opened an international division in Los Angeles. The result was one of the world's largest broadcasting operations with TV stations in Chile and Ireland. Because his stations in Canada technically were not a network, he was not required to invest in Canadian content, and specialised in programming inexpensive re-runs of US shows. In 1998 he added Fireworks Entertainment, a television production company, to his holdings, and in 2000 bought the Southam chain of newspapers from Conrad BLACK for $3.2-billion.

Izzy Asper was one of Manitoba's most prominent figures. In 2003 he established a foundation to build the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. Among his many honours are the ORDER OF CANADA (1995) Asper was inducted into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame and in 2004 received a posthumous lifetime achievement award from the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada.