Newly-appointed human-rights museum head Stuart Murray says his experience in business and politics makes up for his lack of direct human rights experience.
Ottawa confirmed Murray’s appointment today as the first chief executive officer of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights to be built at The Forks.
Murray said he will look to his team of senior staff to help him navigate what many expect will be frequent controversies that erupt over exhibits and programs.
"This is going to be a conglomerate effort," he said.
Murray, who left politics in 2006, is currently the CEO of the St. Boniface Hospital Research Foundation.
The search for the CEO began about 12 months ago, shortly after the board of directors was named in late August 2008. Patrick O'Reilly was hired as the museum's chief operating officer in October 2008.
The CEO position is classified by Ottawa as a CEO level 3 which has a salary range of $167,300 to $196,900. It is the same level position as the heads of the Canadian Museum of Nature, the National Gallery of Canada and the National Museum of Science and Technology.
Ottawa has approved an annual operating budget of $21.7 million. The museum's board has been negotiating with the different levels of government to help cover an expected $9-million annual payment to the city of Winnipeg in lieu of taxes.
The museum is a Crown corporation and the first new national museum in Canada in 40 years. It is the first national museum to be located outside of the Ottawa region.
Construction is underway and the doors are to open in spring 2012.
Murray has a diverse resume with experience in politics, the arts and business. Among his former jobs are road manager for the rock band Blood Sweat and Tears, media director for the Canadian Opera Company and CEO of Domo Gasoline.
In 1999, he chaired the World Junior Hockey Championship in Winnipeg.
He also spent a couple of years in the 1980s organizing former prime minister Brian Mulroney's travel tours.
In 2000, he was acclaimed as the Manitoba Progressive Conservative leader, replacing longtime premier Gary Filmon.
Murray's years on Broadway were tumultuous at best. He was a rookie politician tapped to head a party deeply fractured after its 1999 election defeat and the burden of the vote-rigging scandal as well as broke thanks to new fundraising rules that eliminated the party's reliance on corporate donors.
Murray stepped down as leader in November 2005 after a leadership review resulted in just 55 per cent support from his party.
He resigned as the MLA for Kirkfield Park in September 2006 to take the job at the hospital foundation.
The appointment of Murray's one-time rival, Gary Doer, as the next Canadian ambassador to the United States has raised eyebrows within Conservative circles because of Doer's NDP affiliation. Some felt the government should also find soft landings for loyal Conservatives such as Murray and Gary Filmon.
Murray was reportedly in the running for the Manitoba Senate vacancy that went to Conservative party president Don Plett.