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This article was published 30/3/2018 (622 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Manitoba politician and army veteran who helped amalgamate the City of Winnipeg, oversaw the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and advocated for Japanese-Canadians’ rights after the Second World War has died.
Saul Cherniack packed a lot of life into his 101 years. He died early Friday in his sleep, his son Lawrie Cherniack said.
"He never cared if he got elected. What he cared was if he did what he felt was the right thing. And he was always willing to change his mind if he felt there was something to be changed," Cherniack said.
His father served as a New Democrat MLA for St. Johns from 1962 to 1981. He served as finance and urban affairs minister during the Edward Schreyer government.
Some of his son’s most vivid memories of his dad stem from his years spent visiting outlying suburbs, trying to convince residents why they ought to amalgamate into a unicity (which happened in 1972).
Cherniack would make presentations and then field questions for hours, his son remembered.
"And at the end of the day, I think it’s fair to say, even if people disagreed with him, they respected him and understood that he was acting on principles and with the best of intentions," Cherniack said.
He remembers his dad being an incredibly hard worker, who would bring home two briefcases chock full of paperwork to study every weekend.
Before being elected MLA, Saul Cherniack was a lawyer. He served in the army during the Second World War, learned Japanese and intercepted messages from forces abroad.
After the war, he became one of three lawyers to represent Japanese-Canadians countrywide, trying to get them reparations for land and property that was taken away from them, his son said.
Then, Cherniack became a school trustee, served as a councillor in Winnipeg Beach and Winnipeg, and was eventually elected to the legislature. He served four terms and retired from public life in 1981.
But he didn’t put away his briefcase.
Cherniack would become one of the founding members of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, overseeing CSIS, and chaired the Manitoba Hydro board.
He was also awarded the Order of Manitoba and the Order of Canada.
Cherniack celebrated his 100th birthday last year with a big cohort of NDP members past and present.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis, another former NDP MLA for St. Johns, considered Cherniack "a role model, mentor and friend."
"I am forever grateful for his example and his leadership. For me, he exemplified what it means to be a true servant of the people, a true representative of his constituency," she said.
One of the speakers at Cherniack’s 100th birthday called him "the best leader the NDP never had," Wasylycia-Leis recalled.
"What he brought to Manitoba is a strength of leadership that combines courage of your convictions with integrity and with absolute devotion to the principles of democracy."
Cherniack requested his family not hold a public funeral for him, though they may still plan another celebration of his life. He is survived by two sons, two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and his longtime partner Myra Wolch.
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 8:49 AM CDT: Edited