University of Manitoba - University Governance - The Honourable Otto Lang, LL.D., October 22, 1987
The Honourable Otto Lang, LL.D., October 22, 1987
The Honourable Otto Lang
B.A., L.L.B., B.C.L., P.C., Q.C.

I have the honour to present the Honourable Otto Lang, B.A., L.L.B., B.C.L., P.C., Q.C.

Otto Lang was born in Handel, Saskatchewan, and graduated from Humbolt Collegiate Institute in 1948. He immediately entered the University of Saskatchewan, enrolling in Arts. He received his B.A. with Distinction in 1951, and his L.L.B. with Great Distinction in 1953. He entered Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, and was awarded a B.C.L. degree in 1955.

Otto Lang rose rapidly and with distinction through the legal and academic system in Saskatchewan. In 1956 he was appointed an assistant professor of law at the University of Saskatchewan, and was admitted as barrister and solicitor to the Saskatchewan Bar. He was appointed Dean of Law at the University of Saskatchewan in 1961. He served as President of the Association of Canadian Law Teachers in 1962-63. In 1972 he was admitted to the Ontario Bar, and the same year was named Queen's Counsel for Saskatchewan and for Ontario.

Turning to active politics, Otto Lang served as Member of Parliament for the constituency of Saskatoon-Humbolt from 1968 to 1979. He was a productive cabinet minister, serving in numerous portfolios and introducing many pieces of important and often controversial legislation. As Minister Responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board during 1969-1979, he had a concern for the economic health of prairie agriculture. He implemented the LIFT program (Lower Inventories for Tomorrow) during a period of disastrously low world grain prices, and in 1974 he introduced the Western Grain Stabilization Program which was designed to ease the burden of fluctuations in prairie farmers' incomes. At the same time, he was conscious of the need for efficiency in the marketing and transportation of Canadian grains if Canada wished to remain competitive in world grain markets. In 1975, he appointed two Commissions of Inquiry into branch lines and rail transportation costs. This led to programs such as the government purchase of hopper cars and the branch lines rehabilitation program, and ultimately a change in the Crowsnest pass freight rates on grain.

Otto Lang was equally innovative in other ministerial portfolios. As Minister of Manpower and Immigration, he introduced the Local Initiations Program. As Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada, he brought in wiretap legislation and the Human Rights Commission Act. And, as Minister of Transport, he re-organized rail passenger travel in Canada by introducing Via Rail.

In 1979, Otto Lang turned his talents to the business world. He was appointed Executive Vice-President of Pioneer Grain Company, Ltd., and he serves on the Board of a number of other companies and industry organizations including Pioneer Grain Terminal Ltd., Richardson Terminals Ltd., Les Elevateurs de Sorel Ltee, Ports Canada, Ridley Terminals Ltd., and the Senior Grain Transportation Committee. His commitment to an efficient and innovative grain handling and transportation system in Canada and
his willingness to articulate his views forthrightly have made him a highly respected member of the Canadian grain industry.

Otto Lang is also a concerned citizen. He served as Campaign Chairman for the United Way of Winnipeg in 1983, and he is a Member of the Board of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. He also shares his talents and wisdom with a number of organizations at The University of Manitoba, where he is Executive Member of the Board of St. Paul's College and a member of the External Advisory Committee of The University of Manitoba Transport Institute.

Otto Lang has distinguished himself in the public, business, and academic worlds through his insight in dealing with complex issues, his imaginative and innovative solutions to problems, and his commitment to making Canada a better place to live.

Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege to ask, in the name of the Senate of The University of Manitoba, that you now confer on Otto Lang, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.