John Bowman, CBC News Online
Ramon John Hnatyshyn, Canada's 24th governor general, will probably be remembered for the
openness he brought to the office, as well as for the support he gave to the arts in Canada.
Hnatyshyn struck a balance between respecting the ceremony of his vice-regal position, being the
representative of the Crown in Canada, and strengthening the office's ties to all Canadians.
Ray Hnatyshyn was introduced to politics at a young age. Political gossip between his father, John,
and future prime minister John Diefenbaker piqued his interest in the field.
He attended the University of Saskatchewan and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1954 and a
Bachelor of Law degree in 1956. He was called to the Bar of Saskatchewan in 1957. When his
father was named to the Senate in 1959, the younger Hnatyshyn went to Ottawa as well, to serve
as an aide in the Upper House.
Hnatyshyn then worked in the family law firm and was a lecturer at the College of Law at the
University of Saskatchewan before he was elected to Parliament as a Conservative MP in 1974.
Joe Clark appointed him energy minister in his short-lived government. Hnatyshyn was also House
leader and justice minister to Brian Mulroney before being defeated in the 1988 federal election.
Mulroney appointed Hnatyshyn to the post of governor general on Dec. 14, 1989, and he was
sworn in a few weeks later.
Hnatyshyn made Rideau Hall not only his official residence, but also a tourist destination, opening
the historic property to tour groups. For security reasons, Jeanne Sauvé, his immediate
predecessor, had the Rideau Hall grounds shut tight.
In 1992, Hnatyshyn reopened the hall's skating rink to the public and hosted a rock concert at the
hall to promote education, billed on YTV as "His Excellency's Most Excellent Rock Concert."
Also in 1992, Hnatyshyn visited Ukraine, the country his grandparents emigrated from, and was
welcomed as a returning hero.
He also established the Governor General's Awards for Performing Arts in 1992.
As he left the vice-regal post, Hnatyshyn was praised for combining the traits of previous governors
general: the folksy populism of Edward Schreyer with the regality of Jeanne Sauvé.
On June 30, 1992, Hnatyshyn spoke about Canada on the eve of the 125th anniversary of
"What we have is well worth belonging to," said Hnatyshyn.
"Let each of us do what we can to ensure that all our brothers, all our sisters, our young and our
old, our people of all colours, our people of different languages and religions and cultures, feel that