November 15, 2018

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Province makes history

First Lt.-Gov. of Chinese descent

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/8/2009 (3389 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It will be a family affair for Manitoba's new Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee.

Lee, sworn in Tuesday as Manitoba's 24th lieutenant-governor, said in an interview he will use his position to advocate for more support for the visually impaired.

Helping him will be his wife Anita and daughters Maggie, Mabel and Melinda and their families. Nine years ago Maggie lost her sight.

"That really affected my family," younger daughter Melinda said. "It broke my father's heart. He's always been very compassionate to people with disabilities, but this really touched close to home."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/8/2009 (3389 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Philip Lee inspects the Honour Guard after being sworn in Tuesday at Manitoba's first Chinese-Canadian lieutenant-governor.  Less says he will use his position to advocate for the visually  impaired, a cause close to his heart.

RUTH.BONNEVILLE@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Philip Lee inspects the Honour Guard after being sworn in Tuesday at Manitoba's first Chinese-Canadian lieutenant-governor. Less says he will use his position to advocate for the visually impaired, a cause close to his heart.

It will be a family affair for Manitoba's new Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee.

Lee, sworn in Tuesday as Manitoba's 24th lieutenant-governor, said in an interview he will use his position to advocate for more support for the visually impaired.

Helping him will be his wife Anita and daughters Maggie, Mabel and Melinda and their families. Nine years ago Maggie lost her sight.

"That really affected my family," younger daughter Melinda said. "It broke my father's heart. He's always been very compassionate to people with disabilities, but this really touched close to home."

Maggie's husband, Alan Grant, said the entire family want to help Lee in his campaign, specifically focusing on the lifestyle choices and the risk of living with undiagnosed diabetes.

"We're committed to it because we live it every day," Grant said. "But at some time we want to bring all of the facets of blindness to peoples' awareness."

Lee, Manitoba's first Chinese-Canadian lieutenant-governor, replaces John Harvard as the Queen's representative in Manitoba. Lee will serve for about five years.

Lee said during his childhood in Hong Kong he was taught to use his influence to help those less fortunate. Those lessons were reaffirmed when he came to Canada in 1962 to study as a lawyer. When his daughter's retinas became detached, he encouraged her to volunteer at the Canadian National Institute For The Blind.

"I pledged that some day when I had a very principled position I would try my very best to help out," he said.

Lee's lobbying on behalf of the blind is not without precedent. When Harvard took the job, he and his wife Lenore Berscheid advocated for more services for the mentally ill.

Lee, born in 1944, said during his swearing-in ceremony that he also wants to work to bring Manitobans closer together and enhance the province's quality of life.

Daughter Maggie said the family was also touched by the words of Charleswood MP Steven Fletcher who spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Fletcher said Lee is an example of someone who is living the Canadian dream.

"Today we're living my dad's dream," Maggie said.

Lee is the first lieutenant-governor born outside of Canada since John McDiarmid, Manitoba's 14th lieutenant-governor, who served 1953 to 1960. Lee is also a respected leader in Winnipeg's Chinese community, helping with the Chinese pavilion for Folklorama and developing Chinatown.

The significance of Lee's new job also wasn't lost on the province's Chinese community.

Hui Hua Lin said she brought her young son Kevin Kuang to the Legislative Building to watch history being made.

"This morning when I told him I was taking him to see the ceremony, he asked me if he could be a lieutenant-governor, too. I said if you study hard and make a contribution to the community, you could."

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca.

What is the role of the lieutenant-governor?

It's a ceremonial job, but past L-G's have used to the positions to advocate for special causes.

As the Queen's representative, he or she is the guardian of responsible government in the province, making sure the democratic will of Manitobans is respected.

The L-G determines which political party enjoys the confidence of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba after an election, and appoints its leader as premier.

Other jobs include reading the speech from the throne outlining the government's legislative agenda, giving assent to bills passed by the legislative assembly so they can become law, and signing decisions of cabinet (orders-in-council) for them to take effect.

The lieutenant-governor also meets and greets dignitaries, such as members of the Royal Family and foreign heads of state.

He or she also cuts a lot of ribbons, hands out awards and hosts various receptions in Government House, the official residence immediately southeast of the legislative building. Manitoba's new Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee moves into Government House in mid-September.

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