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Hnatyshyn, Ramon John (1934– 2002)

Ramon Hnatyshyn, June 1991.
Bryan Schlosser (Regina Leader-Post)

Born in Saskatoon on March 16, 1934, Ramon (Ray) Hnatyshyn followed in his father John’s footsteps and entered the legal field. John Hnatyshyn, a lawyer by trade, was also Canada’s first Ukrainian-born senator. Ray graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1956 and was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in 1957. He practiced privately for two years, but moved to Ottawa to work as an executive assistant to the government’s Senate leader. In 1960 Hnatyshyn returned to Saskatoon, married Gerda Andreasen, and resumed the practice of law. After unsuccessfully running as a Conservative in the 1964 provincial election he taught law at the University of Saskatchewan for ten years.

In the 1974 federal election Hnatyshyn was elected in Saskatoon-West. When the Progressive Conservative Party won a minority government in 1979, Hnatyshyn was appointed to the Energy, Mines and Resources portfolio and was Minister of State for Science and Technology. In 1984, in the Brian Mulroney majority government, Hnatyshyn was appointed Government House Leader. Hnatyshyn was named president of the Privy Council in 1985 and Minister of Justice and Attorney General in 1986. In 1988 Hnatyshyn was defeated. He worked with a law firm where he specialized in trade law and mediation. That year Hnatyshyn was appointed Queen’s Counsel (QC) for Canada and, one year later, he was granted an honorary life membership with the Law Society of Saskatchewan. Mulroney appointed Hnatyshyn as Governor General in January 1990. He reopened Rideau Hall’s doors to the public, and specifically opened grounds and rooms of the official residence of the Governor General to public events, activities, and tours. He founded the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts in 1992, and the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Arts. Hnatyshyn returned to his law firm in 1995 as a senior partner. At the time of his death on December 18, 2002, Hnatyshyn was serving as Chancellor of Carleton University.

Teresa Welsh

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