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University mourns John Harvard

January 9, 2016 — 
John Harvard, 2005 honorary degree  recipient

John Harvard, 2005 honorary degree recipient

The Honorable John Harvard, a former lieutenant-governor of Manitoba and longtime Liberal Member of Parliament, died from cancer on January 9, 2016 at age 77. He had strong connections to the University of Manitoba as an honorary degree recipient in 2005 and his widow, Pat Bovey, is chair of the University of Manitoba Board of Governors.

“Manitobans have lost a great voice in their community, and a good friend,” says David Barnard, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba. “The Honourable John Harvard, former Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, had a life-long passion for public affairs and the democratic process. A true humanitarian, he made outstanding contributions to public service in Winnipeg, our province and indeed the world. To Pat Bovey and other loved ones, I offer my sincerest condolences on behalf of the entire university.”

John Harvard was born in Glenboro, Manitoba, the 11th of 14 children born to Icelandic Canadians. His story was that of immigrant heritage and the opportunity to achieve greatness through hard work and perseverance. His chosen profession was broadcast journalism, first with CJOB and then with CBC, interviewing Prime Ministers and political pundits as well as the ordinary man and woman whose stories needed to be told. For his work on the CBC TV program 24 Hours, John Harvard won the prestigious ACTRA award for the best broadcaster in Canada. He also contributed to the national broadcasts and served in key positions for the CBC in Toronto and Vancouver.

Following his award-winning career in media, Harvard’s dedication to community service led him to enter politics, winning a seat with the Liberal party in the 1988 federal election. In his first parliamentary term he served on the Standing Committee of Agriculture and Communications and was opposition critic for Western Diversification and Chair of the Manitoba Liberal Caucus. After the Liberals formed the government in 1993, Harvard chaired three House of Commons committees and served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministers of Public Works, Agriculture and International Trade. After the 2000 election, Harvard was chosen to lead the Prime Minister’s Task Force on the Four Western Provinces, and sat on the Standing Committee on foreign Affairs.

After 16 years in Parliament, John Harvard was installed as Manitoba’s 23rd Lieutenant Governor on June 30, 2004 and held the post until his term ended in 2009. He also was a member of the Queen’s Privy Council, a member of the Order of Manitoba, a member of the Order of the Falcon (Iceland’s only civilian decoration), and received both the Canada 125 and Queen’s Jubilee Medals.

In 2005, the University of Manitoba bestowed upon him an honorary degree, at which time his mentor Dr. Richard Sigurdson, Dean of Arts, noted that Harvard: “always put first the interests of the common people he served. His commitment to a just and democratic society has been the hallmark of his long and remarkable public career.

In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to make a donation is asked to support Winnipeg Harvest, the Buhler Gallery at St. Boniface Hospital and the John Harvard Smart and Caring Community Fund with the Glenboro Area Foundation.


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