The Honorable Peter M. Liba, LL.D., May 30, 2001
 

Peter Liba
CM., O.M.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba

Peter Liba has combined a highly successful career in the field of communications with a notable record of service to the community. In honouring him, the University recognizes that achievement and honours the high public office he now holds.

Born in Winnipeg in 1940, the elder son of Theodore and Rose Liba, Peter Liba was educated in Winnipeg. At an early age he began a career in journalism as a reporter on the Daily Graphic in Portage la Prairie, subsequently serving in various capacities with that newspaper as well as The Neepawa Press, The Manitoba Leader in Portage la Prairie. In 1959 he joined The Winnipeg Tribune as a staff writer and over the next decade assumed increasingly significant responsibilities culminating, in 1968, with his appointment as City Editor.

In the mid-1970's he entered the world of broadcast journalism and communications becoming, in 1974, Vice-President (Public Affairs) for CanWest Broadcasting and, ultimately, Executive Vice-President of the CanWest Global Communications Corporation. He simultaneously assumed a number of positions at CKND-TV ultimately serving as President and CEO of both CKND Television and SaskWest Television. He served as chairman or president or director of a number of broadcasting organizations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chile. Many honours flowed from this substantial role in broadcasting including, not surprisingly, his induction into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1998.

Peter Liba's career in journalism and the communications industry was paralleled almost from the beginning by an equally strong commitment to public and community service. In the 1960's he was a school Trustee in the Transcona-Springfield School Division. He later served as Executive Director of the Manitoba Liberal Party and, for several years, as executive assistant to the Leader of the Liberal Party. He served in a variety of capacities on the boards of the Winnipeg Convention Centre, on the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, the Manitoba Heart Foundation, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, the Variety Club of Manitoba, both the St. Boniface General Hospital and the Hospital's Research Foundation and the Manitoba Academic Medical Centres Consortium. He was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1984.

Mr Liba's life - in both his professional and community roles - attests to the values and rewards of diligence, dedication and service. These considerations were recognized in his appointment as Lieutenant-Governor in 1999.

Through the conferring of honorary degrees, the University has long acknowledged the importance of the office of Lieutenant-Governor. The office obviously has great symbolic importance, but it has also come to represent the importance of constitutional continuity and the ordered processes which are essential underpinnings of a civil society.

The Canadian scholar Frank MacKinnon has written:

The Crown is an elusive phenomenon and a practical institution of government. To some it seems like an old family ghost that has lingered for centuries doing little but making its presence felt. To others it is a remarkable political invention that makes much government action possible, fruitful and tolerable. The Crown is still more than that. It is an institution at the summit of the state designed to limit the problems of wielding political power and to assist the interplay of human characteristics among officials and citizens, which are the real but unpredictable forces in public life... 'God save the Queen,' (says MacKinnon) really means 'God help us to govern ourselves.'

We thus acknowledge the importance of a public institution which is focused not on the political questions or interests of the moment, but on embodying and upholding the rules and conventions through which we, in this community, take our collective decisions. In our system, that responsibility is vested in the Crown and is lodged in the office of Lieutenant-Governor.

Peter Liba's appointment to this office also illustrates the changing character of the office and, indeed, of our society. Peter Liba himself tells how, in 1939, Theodore Liba was employed as a waiter at the state dinner for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth - now the Queen Mother - during their famous Royal Tour. Sixty years later, the waiters son was named the Queens representative in the Province of Manitoba.

Mr. Chancellor, I have the pleasure to request, on behalf of the Senate of the University, that you confer on Peter Michael Liba the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.