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With funeral details still in the works, tributes to former premier Howard Pawley continue to flow from political allies and foes alike.
Former premier Gary Filmon remembered Pawley earlier this week as a gentleman with a preacher’s speaking style and a staunch dedication to his principles.
"He was very dedicated to public service, to his principles and to the New Democratic Party," said Filmon, who was leader of the Tory opposition for much of Pawley’s time as premier and succeeded Pawley in the post in 1988. "He was very tenacious in his commitment to the things he believed in."
Recalling the events of 30 years ago, Filmon said, despite contentious times in the legislature, Pawley was a kind person outside the house, able to share a chuckle over the day’s events with members of rival parties. In the mid-1980s, those events included an attempt by Pawley to entrench French language rights, a move the Conservatives opposed and that prompted a legislative log-jam and days of bell-ringing at the legislature as members were summoned for votes.
Since his death Wednesday morning in Windsor, Ont., Pawley has been widely praised for his ability to listen, to consult and to lead gently by consensus.
"I remember him saying he regarded himself as one vote in cabinet" said Filmon, a unusual approach to governing when Pawley bore the weight of leading his namesake government.
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Flags at Winnipeg city hall, at Windsor’s city hall and at the Manitoba legislature are at half-mast to mark Pawley’s death. The Ontario-born lawyer served as Manitoba’s NDP premier from 1981 until 1988 before becoming a political science professor at the University of Windsor. He was 81.
It’s not yet clear when Pawley’s funeral will take place, but an online book of condolence has been set up on the Manitoba government’s homepage for the public to sign.
In a statement Thursday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Pawley a "remarkable Canadian, widely respected for his championing of human rights, social justice, and economic development."
"Today we mourn the loss of an exceptional visionary whose trail-blazing work made life better for the citizens of Manitoba and, by extension, for all Canadians," said Trudeau. "His legacy will live on in the many advances our country has made toward achieving greater social justice for all."
Pawley’s political career as a minister and premier included the creation of public auto insurance, the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord and a historic defeat when a fellow NDP MLA voted with the opposition Progressive Conservatives to reject the budget and bring down the majority government in a non-confidence vote.